By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – After a three-month search that spanned 40 candidates from 15 states, the Tupelo Regional Airport has a new executive director.
Joshua Abramson, 33, will take over April 19.
Abramson was one of six finalists for the position, which pays about $65,000 plus benefits. He was one of three candidates who were interviewed and was invited back for a second interview on Monday. Authority members offered him the job after the meeting and finalized details on Thursday.
Abramson replaces Terry Anderson, who was fired in December after board members said they had lost confidence in him.
“Josh is well-qualified to meet the goals of the Tupelo Regional Airport and to lead us going forward in this challenging environment,” said Dan Kellum, chairman of the Tupelo Airport Authority. “He is an energetic, award-winning and dynamic executive director.”
The search was conducted by The Pace Group of Tupelo.
Since January 2005, Abramson has been executive director of the Winchester Airport Authority, which oversees activity at the Winchester Municipal Airport, a general aviation airport in Franklin County, Tenn.
“The things that impressed us about Josh was his education, to a position with the FAA, to his success at Winchester, where he won the award for most improved airport in Tennessee,” Kellum added. “He is a career professional airport executive director. It’s what he’s obviously called to do and his experience and energy will serve the Tupelo Regional Airport and our citizens well.”
At Winchester, Abramson oversaw the completion of 16 projects that included facility and technology upgrades. The airport won the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s “most improved airport of the year” award for 2009.
A 2001 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a bachelor of science degree in aviation administration, Abramson also is a panel member of the Airport Cooperative Research Program in Washington, D.C., and the aviation adviser for the South Central Tennessee Development District.
Before his hiring at Winchester, he was ground operations manager for Aviation Specialist Inc. in Murfreesboro, Tenn. He also interned in airport planning and design with the Federal Aviation Administration’s district office in Memphis.
“I would like to thank the Tupelo Airport Authority for the opportunity to serve the people of Tupelo through the airport,” Abramson said. “I look forward to developing business partnerships, greeting passengers and helping airport users. My family and I are very excited in becoming part of the Tupelo community.”
Abramson and his wife, Shanna, have a 1-year-old son, Maeson.
At Tupelo Regional, Abramson will have to hit the ground running. The airport has seen passenger traffic slump by almost 60 percent in three years, and its airline service has been placed under the federal Essential Air Service program, which gives carriers subsidies in order to provide service.
He’ll also greet at least one new authority member, Fred Cook, who was named to the five-member board this week.
But Kellum is confident in Abramson’s ability to get the airport back on track.
“We’re impressed by Josh’s vision for serving people, working to ensure people get good value from our airport,” he said.
Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said he was “excited” about Abramson’s hiring.
“I know we had some outstanding candidates and I look forward to working with Mr. Abramson,” he said.
The mayor appoints airport authority members, who must be approved by the City Council. However, like the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Coliseum Commission, the airport authority has its own budget and operates a little outside of the city’s control, even though it is established as a subset of the city government.