By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Tupelo Regional Airport Executive Director Josh Abramson left Tupelo’s City Council meeting Tuesday with a $500,000 smile.
Abramson finally succeeded in convincing six of the council’s seven members to fund efforts to construct a new taxi-way near a former runway, a capital project he says could lead to economic development and potentially new jobs at the city-owned airport.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work,” Abramson said after the meeting.
This council decision marks a contrast in the last seven months after rejecting a request $1.2 million for similar improvements.
Abramson said he spent time with council members explaining the project’s value to tenants and the airport itself.
“I plan to keep keep up the lines of communication and provide quarterly updates to the council,” he said.
The half-million dollars approved for the airport will allow Abramson to apply for a matching, competitive grant through Mississippi Department of Transportation’s Multimodal Investment Program, which funded $3.4 million to 19 different airport projects in 2013.
The state-funded grants allow airports, public transit, railroads and ports to invest in infrastructure, equipment, vehicles and engineering costs for planned development. Grants are provided based on a formula including operational and economic impact and available funding.
Abramson said decisions on grant award will be made in later this month.
TRA tenant Universal Asset Management, a company that recycles retired aircraft, has recommended the project for months. Company leaders said a new taxi-way able to handle heavy planes was important for company operations.