Industry Roundtable Brings Corporate Leaders to UCM
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Nov. 30, 2007) – An update on the Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport and input into ways UCM can contribute to the needs of local industry were part of the first Industry Roundtable Discussions hosted by UCM President Aaron Podolefsky.
Podolefsky worked with the Johnson County Economic Development Corporation to make the Nov. 28 event possible. About 25 individuals attended. This included university representatives and individuals representing organizations that ranged from the county’s largest industrial employers to new entrepreneurial companies, as well as economic development personnel, the Missouri Department of Transportation, BWR architectural and engineering firm, and the Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
Podolefsky opened the luncheon with a series of questions, including, “How do we define the right academic profile? What is needed to create the right work force for the 21st century? What can the university contribute to the public good?” Although not all of these questions were answered, they served as a catalyst for dialog that will potentially extend into future meetings between the university, JCEDC and area industrial leaders.
“If we are going to ask for public funds from the state, we need to serve the community. I want to learn how the university can help with your needs,” Podolefsky asked the gathering.
Irv Jensen, a representative of Smart Solutions Group who has worked with JCEDC, collected input from those attending about key needs in the community. Discussion unveiled a need for training individuals who can work and train others to serve in the emerging renewable energy industry. Other needs were expressed for employees who are willing and prepared to work in middle management positions; assistance with best uses of industrial space; ways to utilize company interns; and partnerships that foster entrepreneurial opportunities.
One area of interest was the need for aviation facilities that are capable of accommodating corporate clients. Jason Knipp, representative of MoDOT, and Mike Waller, BWR, outlined changes at the airport that will help address this issue. As UCM strives to meet goals established in a 20-year
airport master plan, the airport will benefit from grants totaling $1.62 million from the MoDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.
The grants, which are administered on a 90 percent cost-sharing basis, include $1.35 million for grading necessary to develop a new hangar area north of the existing airport terminal, and to provide grading for a north-south access road that leads from that area to the future site of a new terminal.
Knipp said the existing terminal will be demolished to provide ample side clearance for expansion of the primary runway to 5,500 feet long by 100 feet wide.
“This would allow small to mid-size corporate aircraft like the Cessna Citation or the Learjet,” he told the group.
Waller noted that planning has taken into consideration the possibility of up to 150,000 operations per year at the airport within the next two decades. He provided preliminary drawings of the grading project and the proposed terminal. The grading project will include space for six 10-unit hangars, at least half of them for use by local aviators. Room for maintenance and corporate hangars are included in the plan.
Although funds are not yet available, Waller said preliminary plans for the terminal consider construction of a 139,000-square-foot facility that would cost more than $2.2 million, not including furnishings. The facility would accommodate public use and university aviation training needs. Knipp added that it would be the first aviation facility in the state to be built in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Certified LEED Guidelines. This, according to Podolefsky, is consistent with the university’s participation a charter signatory on the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment to create more environmentally friendly campuses.
MoDOT has provided a $270,000 grant for terminal planning and design. The grading projects are expected to begin sometime this year, weather permitting, and should be completed during the spring 2008.
Following the roundtables, Tracy Brantner, executive director of JCEDC, noted that follow-up discussions could be beneficial for all of those involved.