An “airplane manufacturer” could be in advanced discussions with economic development authorities about relocating to the Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA), resulting in potentially massive construction opportunities.
The so-called “Project Thunderbolt” correlates with the decision by the North Carolina General Assembly to pass a budget amendment bill on Nov. 23 including $106.75 million in appropriations for the airport should an “airplane manufacturer” decide to relocate there, WGHP-TV has reported.
The broadcaster says the airport has been doing site-development work on about 1,000 acres on the north side of Interstate 73 and a taxiway across that highway to connect the property to an existing runway. The legislature’s appropriation would be directed for more development of that site plus the construction of hangars, which would be used by a possible manufacturer.
The Job Development Investment Grant terms the project “a high-yield project for an airplane manufacturer in Guilford County.”
The news about the possible airplane manufacturer emerged during votes being taken on the final day of the General Assembly’s in-person session, the broadcast report says.
“State Sen. Donnie Lambeth, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, introduced the measure on the floor and dubbed the plan as “Project Thunderbird,” state House Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro) said. State Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Greensboro) said that was the “code name” for the project and didn’t really relate to anything specific.”
Some $15 million would be used for site work at the airport, $35 million for roadwork through the NC Department of Transportation and $56.75 million for the airport to use “for the construction of one or more new hangars.”
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners scheduled a work session for 5 p.m. on Dec. 2 when there would be a closed session to consider “expansion of an industry into the area or an economic development incentive.”
The Piedmont Triad Airport Authority issued a statement that says it can’t discuss specifics about ongoing projects but that interest in the airport has been high.
“We can say that for many decades, PTI has been home to important aerospace employers like Honda, FedEx, HAECO and Cessna. Over the last 10 years, the Authority has focused on preparing nearly 1,000 acres to be ready for continued growth in the aerospace industry,” the statement said.
“This land, combined with one of the best surface transportation networks in the country,
outstanding utility infrastructure, and a long-established talent pipeline, make the airport one of the best locations in the world for the aerospace industry.
“The airport has attracted the interest of a number of aerospace companies, which the local
economic development community is actively pursuing. The Authority greatly appreciates the strong support it has received from the state Legislature and the Governor’s office, and others, to attract aerospace jobs to the state and region.”