Cleveland, TN finds a way to pay for its 1st Class Airport Terminal

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Many consider airports to be attractive nuisances with some heavy emphasis on the negative noun. The ↓below article makes it clear that one community supports the municipal facility↑ pictured above. In the midst of Congressional debates about federal funding, it is encouraging to see such a creative local initiative.

Cleveland, TN is a 40,000 plus community in a Northeast corner of the Volunteer state with the boundaries of North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama nearby. It lies within a triangle of Atlanta, Charlotte and Knoxville; so it recognizes that must do something distinctive to attract business. This city has twelve Fortune 500 manufacturers and the local people believe that their first rate terminal has some connection to those companies presence there.

The story makes it clear that the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority did the right thing in planning the building. The manager hired a consultant and determined what such a facility had to have. Their analysis indicated that an attractive façade, excellent foyer, commodious pilots’ lounge and executive grade meeting rooms were essentials. The space, where business persons would be comfortable convening a high level group and spending time, was what the local and visiting companies expected. They even included a water feature to create a first class aura.

The state’s aviation fund provided $350,000 and the city made an equal commitment of capital funding. The municipality had capacity to issue a bond of $1.2 million. That left an immediate shortfall of $90,224 for the first year’s interest payments plus much of the difference between the capital costs and the loan.

The City might have easily reduced some of the features which would define this terminal as an attractive place to do business. They didn’t.

Instead they solicited funds from the following sources:

· leasing advertising space on television monitors Revenue from renting meeting space

· Private and corporate donations.

So far the City has received $311,400 in pledges of which $145,000 has been collected. The facility itself has generated added revenue including charges for room use and a special event at the terminal for over $12,000. Another $73,000 has been donated in construction costs.

As Washington debates AIP ticket taxes and PFCs. It is refreshing to see a community raise the funds for its aviation infrastructure.

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