BY MELANIE WADE –
Mena City Council met in a special called meeting on Tuesday afternoon and approved a resolution authorizing the Mayor and City Clerk to execute a grant agreement with the State of Arkansas Department of Aeronautics in the amount of $152,571.22.
The grant is 90% of a 90/10 matching grant, meaning the city will match 10% of the funds, totaling $16,952.36. The funds will be used to rehabilitate a city-owned hangar at the Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport. MSBI was approved as the low bid on the project, which is expected to begin soon.
Fred Ogden, Manager of Mena Airport, said the airport is fortunate to have been awarded the grant and that the City of Mena approved the funding. “It is also noteworthy that the grant funds are generated by taxes on aviation fuel and the sale of airplanes in Arkansas. So, taxes on aviation activities are being plowed right back into our local airport. The Arkansas Department of Aeronautics (ADA) does this very efficiently,” said Ogden.
The grant was applied for about a year ago and Ogden explained that one more grant was awarded this year to another airport that had applied two years ago, proving how hard they are to attain. “Also, we were fortunate to have been awarded a grant for this large of an amount,” he continued. “Most of the recent grants awarded by the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics have only been about one-third of the amount of our award. This speaks to the fact that the hangar truly is in need of repair.” The hangar the grant was received for was built in the early 1980s and has begun to rust through in places and is showing its age in other areas.
The hangar is currently occupied by a business that is new to Mena Intermountain Airport, Northwest Arkansas Avionics (NWAA). They began renting the hangar in spring 2017 but have been located elsewhere on the field, waiting on the repairs. “They are an FAA certified repair station and provide a vital service to the aviation community at large and to the other repair and maintenance operations on our field. We are fortunate to have NWAA as tenants and are pleased the State has made this money available to us,” Ogden said in closing.
The newest project continues the expansion and growth of Mena’s airport that has occurred over the last few years. With its sizable workforce, payroll and travelers passing through, the airport generates a very positive economic impact to the local community. The airport currently has 18-20 hangars, with most filled with businesses, providing around 300 jobs for community members.
Mena Airport Commissioner Jeff Montgomery added, “Ninety-five percent of all dollars that are brought into the airport by outsiders is spent in the local economy, generating a constant income to our economy. The value of our airport is huge.”
And with their 40-year Master Plan in place and new developments being seen on a consistent basis, the value of the airport will continue to be seen and felt in the community.