(The Wilmington Air Park is in the midst of its fifth year since it was donated by DHL to the Clinton County Port Authority. This is part 4 of a special series reflecting on the past half-decade as well as future expectations for the county’s most valuable piece of real estate.)
WILMINGTON — Former Clinton County Port Authority (CCPA) chairman David Hockaday is one of several community leaders who is very well qualified to reflect with an insider’s perspective on the past five years at the Wilmington Air Park since DHL donated it to the CCPA.
As a former long-time Wilmington city councilman and public servant, Hockaday was a member of Wilmington Mayor David Raizk’s task force that helped keep the air park in operation and joined the port authority board a little more than a year after the donation closed.
“I joined the board Oct. 1, 2011 and two weeks later came the announcement that we were going to collaborate with AMES and the state to build the new maintenance hangar that opened last year and added more than 250 jobs,” said Hockaday, who left the board at the end of September.
There has been modest job growth since the new hangar was built, including several recent announcements, but Hockaday says there are more job-related pronouncements around the corner. He says the last five years has been a time of establishing a solid base for future economic growth in a market that is very competitive across the country.
The largest source of income for the CCPA and stability are the 23-year leases it has with the aviation-related entities at the air park. “We have also been successful with some state grants to do some maintenance on runways and airport ramps and continue to pursue others,” Hockaday said.
The CCPA has invested more than $2.5 million in capital improvements to buildings, grounds and fencing. “We are developing more property outside the fences of the air park because we know a lot of parties have no interest in messing with the security associated with being located directly on an airport,” Hockaday said.
With the aid of staff and its outside real estate and marketing firms, detailed information has been prepared and shared as necessary components of campaigns to do state, regional and national searches for future tenants. Those efforts have included targeted online and print advertising and marketing campaigns, mostly aimed at the aviation and manufacturing sectors.
The CCPA and Wilmington Air Park have won a number of marketing and economic development awards from various professional associations which does much to build awareness and visibility. The air park was named the Ohio Aviation Association Airport of the Year earlier this year based on progress made at the site.
The CCPA receives minimal income from the various sports car and motorcycle events held on the parking lot of the former visitors’ center over the last five years but the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates those events have brought millions of dollars of benefit to local hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
The CCPA also established a revolving loan fund that could even assist community businesses that are not located at the air park, but interest was minimal. Very few qualifying entities were interesting in borrowing money, Hockaday said.
That won’t preclude the Clinton County Port Authority from trying similar creative and proactive ideas in the future to generate jobs and assist local employers.
Schools can also be a partner and the CCPA helped Wilmington City Schools earlier this year on the financing for a new athletic field and other improvements.
The final segment of this series will preview what the future looks like. If you have questions or suggestions about future articles about the Clinton County Port Authority and/or the Wilmington Air Park, contact executive director Kevin Carver at 937.655.7019 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Wilmington Air Park is an integrated aviation and logistics business park located on 1,900 acres in central Ohio. The park features nearly three million square feet of industrial, office and hangar space. For more information, including a history of the air park or to sign up for an e-newsletter, go to www.wilmingtonairpark.com. For periodic updates, connect on LinkedIn.
The Clinton County, Ohio Port Authority is a special purpose governmental entity formed by the Clinton County Commissioners in 2004. It can be used to operate transportation infrastructure and lead economic development. The Clinton County Port Authority owns the Wilmington Air Park.