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Restaurant, community outreach programs included in new airport plan
April 1, 2017
The important role the Georgetown County Airport plays in the area’s tourism and economic development is too often overlooked and uncredited, say members of the County’s Airport Commission.
That group, along with other leaders in the field and county staff, are working on a master plan to correct that. A series of work sessions over the last several months — including a flight to tour the Greenville Downtown Airport and Donaldson Field — have been dedicated to determining what the future of the airport in Georgetown should look like and laying a path to achieve that vision.
What they have come up with so far is a wish list that includes making people (locals as well as potential visitors) more aware of the airport, introducing youth to career possibilities in aviation, and growing the business community around the airport. This includes taking steps to make it easier for economic development staff to attract appropriate businesses to property near the airport and opening a restaurant on the airport campus to cater to pilots as well as attract local residents to visit the airport.
“We’re at the part now where we’re wrestling down the specifics of all the tasks that need to be done and setting time frames,” said Doug Decker, a pilot and tenant at the airport who was recruited to help lead the charge. “The process we’re going through gets down to a fairly finite level of detail.”
To help with that aspect of planning, Decker and the County called on John McDonald. “He’s not an aviation guy,” Decker said. But with a background as deputy undersecretary for the Army and working in the business world, he’s a master at strategy and planning, and knows how to take ideas from paper to reality. Decker said his biggest concern was that a plan would be created and left to gather dust on a shelf somewhere. McDonald’s role is to ensure that doesn’t happen.
It is expected to take about 10 years for all aspects of the plan to be executed. But some components will start to be carried out as early as this summer. Among the first goals to be tackled will be community outreach. Airport Commission members will reach out to the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Alliance and local schools to form partnerships and find ways they can help each other.
Committee members said they see a great need to reach out to local schools, expanding and creating programs that allow students to visit the airport and, in some cases, even take their first flight. There is a huge number of students in the county who have never been on an airplane or even to a regional airport, committee members said during their most recent meeting March 23. That, they said, certainly contributes to the lack of interest locally in pursuing careers in aviation.
“We have a lack of demand here for flight training and also for mechanical engineering programs up at PIA [Pittsburgh Institute for Aeronautics] in Myrtle Beach,” Decker said. “We just haven’t built that demand from the bottom up. We have to reach out to schools at the high school and college level with robust programs and let them know what kinds of opportunities there are for people with those skills. There is good pay and a demand for people in those jobs.”
PIA has a facility use agreement with Horry-Georgetown Technical College, and thus could offer satellite courses on HGTC property in Georgetown.
The S.C. Aeronautics Commission already has a high school curriculum developed and ready for use that local schools could put in place.
James Stephens, executive director of the state commission, is part of the Georgetown planning group and said he applauds the county’s vision for the airport and is enthusiastic about seeing their goals become reality.
“The development of a business plan will enhance the airport and ultimately the economic viability of the community,” he said. “Airports are a vital part of the transportation infrastructure within their respective communities, and without this critical infrastructure component, economic development efforts are often inhibited.”
Aerospace is the second largest industry in South Carolina, and the coastal region leads in aerospace jobs and services, he added.
“The strategic efforts that are currently underway will enable Georgetown County to be part of the growth, and doing so at the airport will facilitate further aviation/aerospace opportunities for the state and the county,” Stephens said. “I look forward to the completion of the project, and I believe that the end product will be something that can be replicated across South Carolina at many of our other airports.”
Planning meetings will continue and, once completed, the resulting master plan will be presented to the public by the end of this year.
“We’re excited about the plans being made here and the potential of our airport,” said Ray Funnye, director of the county’s Public Services Department, which is in charge of the airport. “We already have a wonderful facility here, and we’re delighted to be able to put things in motion to really highlight that and make it even better.”
County to offer free mulch to residents every weekend in March
March 2, 2017
Georgetown County will offer free mulch again at its Pawleys Island Recycling Center every Saturday in March, as well as on Sunday, March 5. Additional Sunday dates may be added based on demand.
The mulch is a result of the massive vegetative debris cleanup following Hurricane Matthew. This material will be given away at no cost on the above dates from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., or until it runs out. Mulch may be picked up at the Pawleys Island Recycling Center, located at 596 Grate Ave. Staff will be on site to help load mulch into vehicles and trailers. There will be no limit on the amount of mulch residents take.
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