Sharp County Regional Airport has been awarded $998,600 grant to help the airport accommodate corporate aircraft.
The grant is provided by the Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration and will be used to widen the runway to 75 feet, install new runway lighting and add more safety areas.
"The airport is making it more accommodating for corporations that want to make improvements to the area or want to bring business in," said Hank Bauman, Airport Committee secretary/treasurer. "It will be easier for larger aircraft to take off and land here."
Approximately 20 to 25 aircraft fly in and out of the airport each month but the Airport Committee hopes that number will increase in time.
"There's been 10 commissioners that have been working their fannies off trying to get this done," Bauman said. "It's not to aid one specific town; it's to aid the communities in getting an increase in business and their tax base. The planning, designing and everything else has been done and we're just waiting for the money. We've got good traffic here. We are doing what we can to make it even better."
Bauman said the federal grant requires a 20-percent match. The state will supply 15 percent, leaving the area responsible for only 5 percent of the match.
Most of that money has been collected already, Bauman said.
Each of the Quad Cities contributes $5,000 annually to the airport, said Ray Maynard, Cherokee Village mayor and chairman of the Airport Committee. Hardy contributes about half that amount but used to contribute more, he said. Sharp County also contributes to the airport.
Through the contributions the airport commissioners have been able to make a variety of improvements at the airport and acquire new land on the east and west sides, he said. The city was able to construct a new hangar, provide a self-service fuel station, complete dirt work and more. Developer Eben Daggett recently gave 11 acres for the improvement project, he said.
This is the second grant the airport has received in three years, Bauman said. The committee plans to apply for another grant in the near future that could be used for a taxiway.
"I can't emphasize enough the importance of having an airport in a community," Maynard said. "We're competing not just with communities down the road, but with communities throughout the state and the world."
The Sharp County Airport received the majority of the grant money. Blytheville Municipal Airport received $150,000. Magnolia, Morrilton and Clarksville airports also received smaller grants.