Council approves more improvements at Bobby Chain Airport

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council approved another round of funding to improve taxiways at the Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport.

Council members approved spending $35,692.63 for engineering services with consulting firm ARE Consultants, Inc. to finalize the design for the taxiway extension. Members approved $83,450.24 in June to be spent to "evaluate and design a taxiway extension" at the airport.

"We've spent several million dollars resurfacing, acquiring land for an eventual runway extension, several things that we have done at the airport to make it safer, to make it more attractive," said Kim Bradley, Ward 1 city council member.

Bradley said those costs are covered by grants from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Todd Jackson, vice president of economic development for the Area Development Partnership, said improvements to make the airport safer and more efficient are especially important for business travelers coming to Hattiesburg's industrial park.

"A lot of companies use this airport pretty frequently to get in and out, easily access their facilities, their teams locally here in Hattiesburg, and then fly right back out," Jackson said.

Even though no commercial traffic flies through the airport, Bradley and Jackson said everyone benefits from the economic boost it brings to our area.

"Yes it is an asset to our community," Bradley said. "We want those owners of these large companies to feel comfortable when they come to Hattiesburg, and through the airport, that's one way that we can make them comfortable."

Jackson said, "It always becomes a very good selling point that they do have the possibility of private aviation directly into this community."

Aside from recruiting new businesses, Jackson said the airport improvements benefit the big economic players, like the military, which Hattiesburg already has.