In its January meeting, the N.C. Board of Transportation approved state funding for various safety and airfield improvement projects at nine North Carolina airports.
North Carolina’s 72 public airports serve as vital economic engines connecting people and business enterprises with the world. Airports and aviation-related industries contribute more than $61 billion to North Carolina’s economy each year, according to the 2021 State of Aviation report. They support 373,000 jobs, generate more than $2.5 billion in state and local tax revenue and provide more than $15 billion in personal income.
More than $279,000 in state funding has been awarded for projects that help the airports increase capacity, attract new jobs and businesses to their communities, and improve the safety for pilots and passengers.
The board approved $148,539 in grant funding toward the Airport Safety Enhancement Program, which helps to provide matching funds for federal safety grants at rural airports.
These funds are available for safety projects at Columbus County, Hyde County, Jackson County, Martin County, Montgomery County, Mount Olive Municipal, Northeastern Regional (Edenton) and Richmond County Airports.
“Each year the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awards grants to general aviation airports throughout the country for upgrade and safety projects,” said Jim Rowell manager of the Jackson County Airport. “Those funds are administered through the North Carolina Division of Aviation within the N.C. Department of Transportation. The FAA funds, known as Non-Primary Entitlement (NPE), carry a requirement of a 10 percent local match.”
North Carolina has designated its airports into four categories, according to the comparative economic and demographic standing of the county or counties which the airport serves. The Jackson County Airport is a designated green (a rural airport in an economically distressed area) and therefore qualifies for assistance with the matching portion of the FAA grant monies.
“The recent award by the N.C. Board of Transportation is to provide the matching funds for federal safety grant money at rural airports,” said Rowell. “There are several ongoing projects at the Jackson County Airport, including a Runway Restoration Area Project that is in the design stage. Money from this latest action will go to match NPE funds to pave a parking area adjacent to the aircraft ramp area. The total project is $69,691 and $6,970 of that would be state aid match funds.”