OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – At its meeting on Wednesday, July 14, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission awarded state grants to several Oklahoma communities for various airport infrastructure projects. The commission awarded the grants through its five-year Airport Construction Program.
“The Oklahoma Airport System is responsible for $10.6 billion of annual economic activity. It is important to continually advance our state airport system to meet the needs of business and general aviation. Our core mission is to provide Oklahoma communities with state financial assistance and to guide federal funds to develop and maintain municipal airports,” said State Director of Aeronautics Grayson Ardies. “A gateway to the world for communities across our state, these airports are critical to furthering economic development.”
The grant was made to Thomas P. Stafford Airport in Weatherford to build a new terminal. Based on bids, the total project cost was $1,642,140 and was funded with $277,222 of federal grant funds, $500,000 of state grant funds and, $864,918 of sponsor matching funds.
The current building requires repair, maintenance, and updating. It was determined the existing building does not provide sufficient room and facilities to accommodate the mix between waiting passengers, pilots, and others visiting the airport. The improvements will provide passengers and users of the terminal the facilities and amenities they would expect to receive at a Regional Business Airport.
The Thomas Stafford Museum is located on the airfield and travelers from across the United States visit the airport annually. The museum showcases the history of aviation and spaceflight. Artifacts and exhibits engage visitors in learning about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) featuring a conference room, flight simulator, computer labs, and digital planetarium.
The aviation and aerospace economic impact study showed the Thomas P. Stafford Regional Airport has an annual economic activity of $6.3 million. The airport is an essential part of the area’s transportation infrastructure which has helped to attract and keep employers in the western part of Oklahoma. Area businesses such as John Deere Western Equipment, Eco-Tech Environmental Services, Dougherty Forestry Manufacturing, Caswell Construction who specialize in concrete, and Red Rock Oil Field Services are reported to rely on the airport to support their operations and to improve their efficiency.
The Airport Construction Program is the method used by the Commission to determine where federal and state funds will be invested. These decisions regarding airport development are consistent with achieving the goals laid out in the Oklahoma Airport System Plan. Airports included in the plan are functionally classified as regional business, district, or community.