Make us your home page

Hernando airport officials eye land as economic stimulus

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County's office of business development may have hit on the ultimate enticement to boost a sagging economy.

Free land.

Airport officials learned last week they have a green light from the Federal Aviation Administration to offer a qualified industry a lease on 50 to 100 acres of indust­rial land at reduced or no cost as a job development incentive.

To qualify, companies would need to provide a minimum of 500 jobs and a $25 million capital investment.

"We're trying to be innovative, to push the envelope," said Mike McHugh, county director of business development.

County and airport officials spent the past nine months developing the proposal, also known as the rainmaker site, for the Hernando County Airport. This proposal will go to the County Commission for consideration on May 12.

Officials said they were surprised by the federal government's relatively prompt approval.

FAA regulations require that initial leases be tied to fair market value and projects must demonstrate value back to the airport.

The county's initial meeting with the FAA earlier this year sent them scurrying back to the drawing board.

"They were blunt," said local Realtor Gary Schraut, who also serves as the Aviation Authority chairman. "They weren't all that interested in our jobs creation plan. They care about airplanes."

"They wanted verifiable numbers on what benefits would come to the airport," he said.

The airport team says they updated the plan and made a compelling case quantifying economic advantages to both the airport and the community.

Currently, only 26 percent of developable land at the airport is in use. The Aviation Authority believes the additional land could be used as part of an economic and job creation stimulus.

There's another plus side.

"This proposal doesn't cost the general fund or the taxpayer anything," said airport director Don Silvernell.

The airport is required by the FAA to be self-sufficient. Any revenue that would be discounted is revenue the airport would have received, said Silvernell.

Once a large industry is secured, support industries will follow, he added. The projected net financial benefit to the airport is more than $14 million over 30 years.

If approved by the county commissioners, Silvernell would be directed to put out requests for proposals.

"We're going to troll in some deeper waters and see what we get a bite on," said McHugh.


Land "giveaway" requires commitment

Industrial land available:

50-100 acres

Qualified industry: 500+ jobs and a $25 million infrastructure commitment

Projected lease discount:

$10 million

Projected lease revenue

from support industries:

$23 million

Net financial benefit:

$14 million

Taxpayer cost: $0

Hernando airport officials eye land as economic stimulus 04/27/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 27, 2009 7:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay's Top 100 Workplaces deadline extended to Nov. 17


    Think you work at one of the best places in Tampa Bay? You've got a little more time to make a pitch.

    Penny Hoarder and Gregory, Sharer & Stuart were among those at an event in Tampa last May honoring winners of the Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces awards. Nominations are now open for this year.  
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  2. Tampa-based Checkers testing delivery, aims for record expansion


    TAMPA — Tampa-based Checkers Drive-In Restaurants continues to fly under the radar compared to dominant burger chains like McDonald's and Burger King.

    Checkers Franchisee Shaji Joseph, of Tampa, hoses down the front walkway of his store at 6401 Park Boulevard, Pinellas Park. The business has a new look including signage and exterior tile. One drive through has been eliminated for an outdoor dining area, right. Joseph owns nine Checkers and is planning to open his tenth in Tampa.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times ]
  3. City Council approves $5 million for Clearwater Marine Aquarium expansion


    CLEARWATER — The City Council on Thursday approved contributing $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for its massive expansion project.

    Clearwater has agreed to contributed $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium 
's $66 million expansion project.. [ Clearwater Marine Aquarium] 

  4. Trigaux: Florida, Tampa Bay lagging in growth of their startups

    Economic Development

    The annual assessment of how entrepreneurs are doing across the country is out from the Kauffman Foundation — among the best watchers of the nation's startup scene. How do Florida and Tampa Bay fare?

    Lured by financial incentives, startup GeniusCentral relocated from Manatee County in 2015 to St. Petersburg, promising to creatye 40 new jobs. It took downtown space in an appropriately creative workpace for entrepreneurs. It did not last there, later moving back to less expensive space in Manatee. A new Kauffman Index report on entrepreneurship found that Florida is a good place to launch startups but a tougher place to grow them.
  5. Pleasant dreams: sleep travel site gives high marks to Tampa airport


    TAMPA — Traveling might be considered closer to a nightmare than a dream for many. But that might be different for those who travel through Tampa International Airport. It was ranked the No. 3 overall best airport in North America by Sleeping in Airports, a travel site that tracks the best airports to catch some …

    Tampa International Airport was ranked as the No. 3 best overall airport by travel site Sleeping in Airports. | [Times file photo]