A grant from the Federal Aviation Administration will help fund the taxiway extension project at Hattiesburg Bobby Chain Municipal Airport.
Hattiesburg City Council voted unanimously to authorize a contract for $1,036,771 with Warren Paving, Inc. for the airport at Tuesday's meeting. Council then approved a grant agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration for $1,016,850 to cover most of those costs.
City officials said that grant is a "90-5-5" execution, which means the FAA pays for 90%, Mississippi Department of Transportation pays for 5% and the City of Hattiesburg pays for 5%.
"We're always looking to improve the infrastructure of the airport," said Southeast Aviation Manager Chip Gibson. "Maintain what we have and then improve what we have and this is really the first improvement we've had infrastructure -wise in over 25 years."
Even though no commercial traffic uses the airport, city leaders say it plays a big role in economic development in Hattiesburg.
"There are a lot of the businesses out there that have planes come in and out daily," said Councilman Carter Carroll. "It is a big economic value to us. It is so much easier for them to get there than the regional airport."
Gibson said the airport serves nine to ten counties and over a dozen businesses, like Kohler Engines and Georgia Pacific.
"It enables them to fly in the morning, take care of business, facility their companies and employees and be back by dinner," Gibson said. "This gives them the option of locating here, in a place that's not the easiest to get to."
Gibson said the airport is also home to the Rescue 7 Medic helicopters and helps facilitate military operations at Camp Shelby.
The extension project aims to make the airport more efficient and safer for aircrafts, giving them more room on the taxiway.
"It makes the airport more attractive to fly to, it completes the taxiway, it enables every type of corporate aircraft to use this airport," Gibson said.