UNION CITY, Tenn., Jun 29, 2011 -- The addition of 1,500 feet, the length of about five football fields, to the main runway at Everett Stewart Regional Airport (UCY) means much larger business jets will soon be able to land safely even when at full capacity. "Runway 1-19 is the most important main street in our region," said Dr. Chris Gooch, Chairman of the Airport Board.
The remark was made today at an event where USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Goode joined Gibson Electric Membership Cooperative President/CEO Dan Rodamaker and local officials to announce a federal investment to complete funding for improvements to the regional airport. Everett Stewart Regional Airport serves as a primary transportation hub for Obion, Lake, Gibson and Weakley counties in Tennessee and Hickman and Fulton counties in Kentucky.
The infrastructure investment comes in the form of a USDA Rural Development low interest loan program that works through local electric cooperatives to create jobs and improve the economic health of their service area. In this case, Gibson Electric Membership Cooperative serves as the conduit for the $287,572 loan to the Regional Airport Authority.
The Airport Authority has invested $306,906 in the project along with $3,296,928 from the Tennessee Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division.
According to airport officials, the existing runway has been extended from 5,000 to 6,500 feet and a Medium Intensity Approach Lighting System is now operational. Runway alignment lights were also added and the corresponding taxi way and safety zones extended as part of the improvements.
UCY currently has the longest instrument runway of any General Aviation Airport in the State outside of Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis. Gooch said, "To improve our ability to compete and grow businesses we've needed the ability to safely accommodate larger business jets. The runway extension and advanced safety lighting makes that possible"
According to a federal government study cited by authorities at the event, every $1 spent at a local airport adds another $2.53 to the local economy.
"This airport provides an important avenue for businesses all over Northwest Tennessee to grow and thrive in a global marketplace," said Goode. "Thanks to all the partners here, and especially to the many years of work by Congressman John Tanner, Rural Development still has funding for regional economic development."
Others participating in the event included Sen. Lamar Alexander's Representative Matt Varino, Rep. Stephen Fincher's Representative Scott Golden, Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire, Weakley County Mayor Houston Patrick, Weakley County Chamber Director Barbara Virgin, Obion County Chamber Director Robbie Green, and RD Area Director Harriet Cannon.
Rural Development business programs help businesses, local governments and non-profit organizations promote job growth in rural communities. Business loan-guarantees help private lenders increase the pool of investment capital available for business start-up, modernization and expansion.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, businesses, community infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. Last year Rural Development assisted more than 1.5 million rural Tennessee families and businesses with more than $1.06 billion in financial assistance through affordable loans, loan-guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in northwest Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Union City at 731-885-6480 ext. 4, toll free at 800-342-3149 ext. 1497 or visit us online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
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