Rural/Mountain America: The VLJs are coming
In another life and in another city, your faithful correspondent worked with a civic-minded group whose objective was to bring certain businesses to our town. Not just more businesses, but certain businesses. We wanted businesses that did not pollute the atmosphere and/or the water table. We wanted businesses that would not duplicate the kind of businesses we already had.
Someone had done an inventory of the businesses already in or around our town. So, it was easy to figure out the kinds of businesses we did not have.
One of those businesses we did not have was a large publishing plant. The kind of plant that could print anything from encyclopedias to being the place where national magazines had their pages printed.
Further research revealed the locations of the kind of publishing plant we needed. All of them were in other states; however, we noticed one particular plant with about 700 employees was being disadvantaged by the way it was being taxed by its local and state governments More research indicated the business owners (a husband and wife) were unhappy about their tax situation.
The next step was to consult with our city and state government authorities to see if we could put together a taxation package and other incentives that might cause that particular publishing plant to relocate to our town.
Fortunately, our local state authorities understood that bringing about 700 well-paying jobs to our town would be a big economic benefit. So, a package of incentives was put together and a team dispatched to present the incentive package to the owners of the publishing plant.
The owners liked the package; however, they insisted they any new location must be either adjacent to or on an airport. They needed a good airport so people involved in the publishing process, writers, editors, agents, photographers, lay-out artists, paper suppliers, etc. could have fast access to their facility.
Our town was fortunate because, when the Strategic Air Command no longer needed the B-47, it donated its air base to our County. The County, in turn, gave the runways, taxi-ways and other aviation-related facilities to the City to be operated as the municipal airport. The municipal airport also gained enough land to create a large business park. The large publishing company would be a perfect it.
The plant owner and his wife flew in several times as they decided what to do. So, the airport played an important role in their decision-making.
And so it was that the large publishing plant moved from another state to our town. The transition was smooth except for the time when a low-level bureaucrat and the wife of the business owner got into a spat over what kind of trees where to be planted on the islands inside the employee parking lot. Those who had worked so hard to bring the 700 jobs to our town were aghast. Our attitude was: let the wife have whatever kind of blooming trees she wanted. And, she did.
During the process of bringing 700 good jobs to our town, we gained an even greater appreciation of the importance of a good community airport. The executives who make decisions about locating or relocating businesses move by air. As do the overnight package delivery services.
At a recent aviation trade show, I got to climb into every Very Light Jet (VLJ) that is flying now or about to fly. The VLJs do not require the long runways normally associated with jet travel. That means rural and mountain America will become more accessible to the business leaders who decide where to locate or relocate businesses.
Despite their smaller size, carrying only five or six people, they are very fast and perfectly suited to quick in and out travel by business leaders. City and County airport sponsors would be well advised to spruce up their community airports and let it be known that they are open for business.
Syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, William Hamilton, is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and a former research fellow at the U.S. Military History Institute of the U.S. Army War College. He is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. An active pilot, he has served for 20 years as a consultant to AOPA, the worlds largest pilot association.
©2007. William Hamilton.