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Hernando County to consider adding Tampa to airport name

BROOKSVILLE — Say what?

People flying in and out of Hernando County may soon be traveling through an airport with a new name that takes part of its identity from our neighbors two counties to the south: the Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport & Technology Center.

Weighing in at a hefty 16 syllables, the new name has been in the works for more than a year and is the product of months of research, focus groups, public meeting and work by the county staff, said Michael McHugh, the county's business development manager.

If approved by the County Commission, the name would replace the Hernando County Airport & Business Complex.

"We just think our name under-represents what we've become," said McHugh. "You don't put a Cadillac label on a Chevy. With a high-performing facility like this, we need to describe it appropriately."

The new name would improve the area's marketability and better reflect what the airport has become — an award-winning aviation and business complex, McHugh said.

"It really does enhance our marketability," he said.

There are a number of reasons for that.

First, Brooksville has better name recognition than Hernando County, better locating the airport in northern Tampa Bay, McHugh said.

Putting Tampa in the name also brings a valuable boost in name recognition and associates Hernando with a much bigger region and economy, he said. Many people know where Tampa is and have a positive view of it, he said.

McHugh said they added "regional" to the name because the Federal Aviation Administration officially designates the airport a regional airport.

"We are the significant aviation center (to the) north for quite some distance," he said.

Including "technology center" reflects the fact that many of the businesses in the surrounding complex have gone high-tech.

"The lower-tech or no-tech companies largely have moved or are not here anymore," McHugh said.

The name change would be the cornerstone of a larger effort to rebrand and improve the airport.

"Everything is on the table to support the mother ship, which is this new brand," he said.

It cost very little to come up with the new name — only a couple thousand dollars, McHugh said. Many of the people who helped volunteered their time.

County commissioners will consider the proposal at their Tuesday meeting. If approved, county staffers will develop a budget and begin implementing the plan.

It was unclear how much it will cost to change the name, but it's a lot more complicated than just switching out a couple signs. Aside from new signage, the airport will need to develop its logo and brand. Hernando officials also have plans to make a number of other improvements to the business park.

McHugh said he has high hopes for the new identity, saying he wants to unlock all of the potential of the 2,400-acre park.

"I just think that we want to be in the top tier," he said.

Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432.

Hernando County to consider adding Tampa to airport name 07/20/12 [Last modified: Friday, July 20, 2012 8:20pm]
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