WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) - New improvements are underway for an airport in the East that caught the attention of state lawmakers.
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore and state Rep. Keith Kidwell were among the leaders shoveling the first scoops of dirt at the Washington-Warren Airport, symbolizing the start of the aerospace future of Beaufort County.
With $20 million of state funds promised to the airport, Washington-Warren Airport Manager Earl Malpass joined the crew with a promise.
“The quality of life for the employees is going to go up dramatically,” Malpass said.
With Eastern Carolina situated about halfway between New York and Miami, the improvements are anticipated to keep the good news coming.
“An expansion of the airport, of course, is going to allow folks to travel into the region easier. It’s going to allow you to have larger jets, you’re going to be able to have more aircraft parked here,” Moore said. “But it’s also going to allow an opportunity for industries or companies that are centered around aviation to be able to open here.”
The money comes from a General Assembly allocation originally presented to the airport in December 2021.
“We’re talking about hundreds of jobs per firm, so that’s going to multiply,” Malpass said. “It may not be ginormous with something like Amazon, but for Beaufort County, you get a thousand good-paying jobs and that’s going to make an impact.”
Aviation jobs hope to offer upward mobility and competitive salaries to the communities around the airport.
“One of the challenges that a lot of rural counties, like this county, like where I live, is that folks will sometimes graduate high school or graduate college and they struggle about where are they going to work? Where are they going to find a job?” Moore said, “and the aviation industry is one of the fastest-growing areas of the economy. "
The $20 million appropriation isn’t just going to benefit the future employees of the airport, but also those currently working the tarmac.
Equipment upgrades like lights on the runways and better aircraft taxi tractors are included in the plans.
The current fleet of aircraft at the Washington-Warren Airport is made up of mostly single-engine planes, with one multi-engine plane, one jet, and one helicopter also part of the mix.
Future plans include expanding aircraft capacity and also branching into the marine industry, providing access for houseboat and yacht owners along the coast to the skies.
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