January 28, 2004 -- Posted at 4:52 p.m. CST
POPLAR BLUFF--A Region 8 town is hoping improvements to its airport will land more industrial dollars in the region. First impressions are important and travelers flying into a city can be greatly influenced by the appeal of it's airport.
According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, most airports the size of Poplar Bluff's have about two to four thousand operations per year--or landings and takeoffs.
Last year the Poplar Bluff Municipal Airport had 10-thousand operations, averaging about 30 a day, making it one of the busiest in Southeast Missouri.
Bill Pettet is the airport manager and said the renovations are not only for the airport, but for the city as well.
"We feel like the airport is the doorway to your community...it's certainly the first thing perspective industry and people see when they get off their airplane and step onto the ramp, and we like to make a good impression for Poplar Bluff," said Pettet.
Renovations to the terminal, an extension to the runway and improved hangers.... all possible because of grant money awarded to the airport.
Airport officials say this money is not only beneficial to the airport, but to the Poplar Bluff community as well.
"To get industry from one place to another you need to have not just a slab of concrete, but instrument approaches for bad weather conditions, you have to have weather reporting to tell you what the weather is, you have to update to be competitive," said Jim Plunkett, airport operator.
"Our community has to keep updating our airport to be competitive with other communities and that's exactly what our community has done."
Dr. Jim Richardson is chairman of the airport advisory board and said the airport is important to the economy of Southeast Missouri.
"We feel like the airport is not only just a place for travelers, people coming and going, but a lot of the business economy in poplar buff is tied to the airport," said Richardson.
Many of the larger businesses and factories in Poplar Bluff fly in executives on corporate jets a few times a month. The extended runway at 5,000 feet makes it possible to land large jets, even Gulfstreams.
"When people like that come to town, they bring payroll to town. they increase the tax base, they bring money to people who don't have jobs. We feel like it's really important to make the airport do the very best that it can, for the community," said Richardson.