Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA), which is viewed not just as a place to fly in and out of but also as a key economic engine for the region, has in recent years been one of the real bright spots when it comes to local economic development. 

High-profile aviation companies have chosen to set up operations there and there’s a tremendous amount of new interest in the airport. Plus PTIA’s 1,000 acre aviation megasite under development is drawing worldwide attention.

That’s likely to translate into many more jobs, just like the many the airport has added in recent years.

PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker and Greensboro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brent Christensen attended a Guilford County Board of Commissioners meeting recently to help secure $2 million in county funds to continue the success of job creation in the airport area.

Before the meeting, both men, sitting next to each other in the audience, looked tired.  When asked, they admitted they were exhausted.  In addition to worrying about Christmas plans, the two are currently at the center of a great deal of recent economic development activity, some at the airport.

Both said they had not slept a lot in recent weeks.

They said they were tired – but they acknowledged that it’s a very good kind of tired.  Christensen touted the accomplishments of PTIA in his address to the commissioners.

If you look at what has happened on that airport field perhaps the last ten years, Christenson said, roughly $100 million of investment from state, federal and airport funds have gone toward enhancements, improvement and expansion, and, in that same ten-year period, Christensen added, employment has gone from 4,500 to 8,600 jobs – so it has nearly doubled in terms of employment.

One thing both Baker and Christensen are happy about is that the airport isn’t just offering jobs but, in most cases, very well-paying ones.

“Those jobs are at or above the county’s average wage,” Christensen told the board.

The aviation company HAECO, he said, has recently added a new hanger with a  $7 million investment, and now has a total investment at the airport of about $240 million. 

“I could go on and on and that’s exactly what we want to do – go on and on,” Christensen told the commissioners.

Baker said he’s very pleased with the level of interest he’s seeing in PTIA lately. He declined to share any details as to the size or nature of any projects currently considering the airport.