AP NEWS

Tri-State Aeroplex ready for new business and industry

September 2, 2018

CEREDO - Tri-State Aeroplex, the nearly 100-acre industrial park adjacent to Huntington Tri-State Airport, recently earned the Quality Site designation for project readiness through American Electric Power (AEP) and its subsidiary, Appalachian Power Co.

Tri-State Aeroplex is approximately three miles from Interstate 64, includes 95 acres that are ready for industrial development and is owned by the Huntington Tri-State Airport. The designation from AEP means the site has been assessed and is ready for future development opportunities.

The designation was earned through a collaborative effort from the airport staff with assistance from the Huntington Area Development Council (HADCO) in applying for the Quality Sites program.

“This work illustrates that we are proactive and doing all the background work necessary to attract new business and industry to the Huntington area,” HADCO President David Lieving said. “Time is money, and if a site has undergone a thorough due diligence we can significantly speed up the process of development, which is attractive to investors.”

“HADCO and the airport have a great partnership,” said Huntington Tri-State Airport Director Brent Brown.

The AEP program identifies optimal project-ready sites for customer development across AEP’s 11-state territory. According to program guidelines, the sites have undergone extensive evaluation to ensure they meet AEP’s readiness standards intended to minimize overall site location risk, save time and reduce site development costs.

“Designation as a qualified site has proven to help organizations and government better market their property to prospective business and industry, and that creates new jobs and tax revenue,” John Smolak, Appalachian Power director of business and economic development, said. “AEP and Appalachian Power benefit by generating new customers and electric load.”

AEP contracted with engineering firm Burgess & Niple to conduct an independent site review. Factors analyzed include available acreage, zoning, utilities, site access, environmental impacts, site restrictions and transportation access. The process included a desktop review of an initial site survey and an assessment of the site through an in-depth meeting and tour with AEP and local economic development officials.

Brown says now the airport can begin the process of marketing the land to outside companies.

“It’s very valuable land, because in West Virginia, 100 acres of flat land is rare,” he said.

The Aeroplex has the ability to accommodate aeronautical and non-aeronautical business, accommodate corporate and general aviation fleet mix and hangars, has a FedEx hub facility capable of heavy air freight service and more.

Brown says the Aeroplex came about when a second runway was underutilized to the point the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would no longer fund it.

“The airport didn’t have the funds and we also saw it as underutilized, so we opted to decommission it,” Brown said.

In 2016, about $2.5 million in infrastructure improvements, including adding several utilities such as sewer, fire water, potable water and fiber, were completed on the 95-acre parcel.

The hope is that the Aeroplex will be a place for companies to build maintenance and repair facilities, as well as avionic shops and aircraft paint shops, according to Brown.

“We are looking at aviation-related businesses, aerospace industries and others, but we are open to various other businesses and industries as well,” Brown said. “What we anticipate is that it will be a place for someone to come in and put a big maintenance and repair facility, and then other businesses would be able to spur off of that - like an avionic shop, aircraft paint shop and also room for many private hangars for aircraft storage. We are marketing the site with economic development leaders and groups in the Tri-State, like HADCO, that have the data and marketing tools needed to bring business, industry and new jobs to this site.”

Last year, the site also became a certified aerospace-ready community, Brown added.

“We want people to know we have a site that has qualified as ready to go for business and industry,” he said. “Our overall goal is to expand the airport and our services to give our customers the best experience possible.”

For more information on the Tri-State Aeroplex, visit http://huntington.zoomprospector.com/.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.