NEW LIFE FOR AN OLD AIRPORT: WELCOME TO AKRON EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
Thanks to the vision of a mayor, an encouraging task force study, an enlightened airport advisory board and supportive businesses and operators, Akron’s newly re-branded general aviation airport is being revitalized – to the benefit of the entire region.
“I have witnessed, first-hand, that in most thriving cities the regional general aviation airport plays a critical role in fostering and supporting economic development activities,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan at a recent event announcing the city’s recommitment to the future of the airport as an economic development driver for the city and region. “Investing in the airport is a key part of our strategy to set Akron apart and attract new job-creating businesses.”
According to Horrigan, the city is making capital investments in the airport as well, including flight obstruction clearing, which is nearly complete. The resurfacing of runway 7/25 will take place in 2020, followed by the removal of the short, rarely utilized Runway 1/19. The closing of Runway 1/19 will free up significant real estate, due to clear zones and the like, for growth and business development at AKR, and space for much-needed business aircraft hangars. The airport is five minutes to downtown Akron and less than a mile from Akron’s interstates.
John Hogarth, who has had businesses on the airport since 2000, and is the owner of FBO, Summit Airport Services, said, “In the past, we had an airport that had been languishing. Now, the doors have opened, and people are paying attention.”
Hogarth’s lease has been extended from five to 25 years, which will help with growth and investment. Currently, 15 companies base their aircraft at AKR, but Hogarth is hopeful that the revitalization of the airport and the additional space for hangars and other buildings will attract more flight departments and other businesses.
An encouraging start is the recent announcement by Stark State College that it will open a commercial driver’s license school at the airport by the end of this year.
Randy Theken, owner of four medical device companies based in the former Art Deco terminal building, has been at AKR since 2004. His company – which annually flies in about 100 customers, most of them spine surgeons and neurologists – now has four aircraft and a 40,000 square foot manufacturing building on airport grounds.
“The airport has served me well over all these years,” said Theken.