OKOLONA, Miss. (WCBI) – In a press release from the offices of Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, $2.37 million are being spread across the state to nine municipal airports.
$100,977 of that went to Okolona’s municipal airport, and its big money for the runway.
In the last decade, personal aviation has been taking off in the area.
Now, Okolona looks to extend its runway and their business opportunities.
Okolona Mayor Sherman Carouthers calls this airport a hidden gem.
It’s hidden, but it’s nice.
Along with the city’s location and other travel access points, they’re hoping this airport expansion can increase the likelihood of landing big business.
“We are very pleased and thankful,” said Carouthers.
The airport received just above $100,000 from the Federal Government for tree removal to expand the runway.
According to Carouthers, this grant is only part of a multi-year plan to support the area’s interest in flying.
“Our airport has been an enterprise that has really developed into something extremely nice,” said the Mayor. “To meet the needs of general aviation, these are the things that must take place in order for the development to continue in its growth and development.”
Carouthers and the city have been under the guidance of former Tupelo Airport director, Terry Anderson, who’s taken notice of the site’s potential.
“There’s just a tremendous appetite for aviation, and Okolona happened to have a suitable airport, well situated, and this is something that can passed on to the next generation, which is not really thought about,” said Anderson. “It’s now time to look at runway expansion and things like that so that we can get a little larger aircraft.”
Anderson says the airport would only remain around half full on a regular basis.
The grant would also go towards more parking hangers, because now it’s at max capacity.
“Private planes, we have individuals who are flying in for emergency landings,” Carouthers listed off. “The Columbus Air Force Base, they utilize our facility for touch and go runs and exercises, so we have an asset.”
The city already has access to highways, railroads, and water.
With a larger airport space, Okolona looks all the more desirable for business.
“Seeing what’s it’s like today, it gives me good satisfaction in knowing we are bringing in aviation potential possibilities for the future to that area,” said Anderson.
“We are going to market this and let the people know that here in Northeast Mississippi, the whole state, we are here and we are open for business and we want their business,” Carouthers added.
Mayor Carouthers also made the point that Okolona’s location makes the airport valuable, being short drives from Tupelo and Amory.