New Terminal Could Bring Business, Commercial Planes
by Kim Gebbia
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn- Could a major airline soon be making stops at the Clarksville Airport? If some local leaders have their way, that will be a reality in the next few years.
It's part of a strategic plan that already underway in Clarksville. Local leaders on the Airport Authority Board are trying to figure out if there are enough Montgomery County travelers to bring a commercial airline into town.
"There are two different flights we are looking at, Allegiant flies in and out and they do a low cost flight to destination areas like the beach or up to the northeast," said John Patterson, the head of the Clarksville Airport.
"I believe within five years it's a realistic possibility," said Council Member, Nick Steward.
Before that could ever happen, the city needed to upgrade it's terminal, built in the 1950's.
County Mayor Carolyn Bowers was ashamed to show corporate clients, like Hemlock Semi Conductor, the terminal when they made their first impression of the city based off the airport few years ago.
"They were taken a back when they saw the inside of the terminal, not expecting it to be as run down as it was. It got my attention to say I would never do that again," said Bowers.
Now she never has to. The new Clarksville Airport Terminal opened its doors Monday after years of debate, delays and $4 million dollars in city, county and state funding.
Perhaps the toughest challenge was convincing a skeptical community that the terminal was needed.
"There was a lot of questions why do we need a new airport terminal? I'm never going to use that," recalled Steward.
Currently 40 planes a day use the Clarksville airport, and at least one corporate client flies in a week to check out the city as a potential new site. Clarksville Mayor Kim McCmillian says new business means new jobs for skeptical residents.
"That is the first thing on everybody's mind: jobs, jobs, jobs. I think that this particular facility can help us create more jobs," she said.
It's was a hard sell, but the new high tech terminal is the first step to bringing new business on the ground and 747's to the Clarksville skies.
Officials said there are still a lot of improvements that need to be made like repairing and extending the runway for commercial planes. But in their strategic plan they went to the Nashville airport and counted Montgomery County license plates and on that particular day there were more of those plates than any other county in the parking lot.
The new terminal also has a state of the art meeting room so that companies can fly in and meet on site and fly out without ever leaving the airport.