Column: Prescott airport should be Prescott Regional Airport

The City of Prescott recently received grant funding to complete a comprehensive Airport Master Planning process.

Courier file photo

The City of Prescott recently received grant funding to complete a comprehensive Airport Master Planning process.

Prescott Municipal Airport is a bustling, and vital operation. Pursuing regional collaboration is crucial to the success of the airport, both now and in the future. That is why I have asked mayors of Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, and Dewey-Humboldt, and Yavapai County supervisors to begin discussing the concept of Prescott Municipal Airport becoming Prescott ‘Regional’ Airport (PRC).

It is beneficial for our airport and the entire region to seek federal and state grants as a regional airport since Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding decisions are more positive toward supporting a collective body representing all of the citizens within Yavapai County. The City of Prescott is exploring the establishment of an airport authority so other regional municipalities can partner with us and influence future airport development.

The City of Prescott recently received grant funding to complete a comprehensive Airport Master Planning process. As part of the process, elected officials and citizens are encouraged to provide comments about their airport at a series of open house meetings. Members of the Master Plan Action Committee (MPAC) — consisting of regional elected officials, various public and private sector representatives, and airport stakeholders — will also conduct several public work sessions throughout 2017.

During these meetings, the MPAC will provide input to an airport consultant who will ultimately draft five-, 10- and 20-year plans. Citizens of the Quad Cities or Yavapai County, can express their opinion of the airport planning process at these meeting or to your respective elected officials.

Regional mayors and I believe that it is feasible, through the use of public/private partnerships (P3), to expand and improve PRC. The commitment of private sector investors and businesses to help fund airport improvements is a very real and exciting possibility. Businesses must have convenient and reliable air service in order to commute for business as well as ship products. With greater air cargo capability, new and expanding businesses will look to start up or relocate to Prescott.

This is especially true for those with links to technological fields taught at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), and our other institutions of higher learning. As businesses develop in these areas, we will be better positioned to provide jobs for graduates. A critical component for success in this endeavor is an improved airport complex.

If all goes according to schedule, the FAA and ADOT will formally adopt our airport plan by 2018, and then schedule grant opportunities to advance it. Revitalizing our airport is a monumental undertaking. It can be accomplished only by forward-thinking elected officials, committed public-private partners who see the great potential benefit to our collective communities, and support of county residents who ultimately will bring this vision to fruition.

With support from the entire region, we can obtain improved scheduled air service and increased economic development for the entire quad-city area.

Harry B. Oberg is the mayor of the City of Prescott.