"It's a great day for the City of McKinney and a great day for Collin County."-- McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller
McKinney's mayor made this statement Thurday morning at the Collin County Regional Airport. That's where guests and officials watched the first take-off at the facility's new runway.
Those on hand included representatives from the office of U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson, Collin County Commissioners Court members, McKinney City Council members, and mayors and city managers from Collin County cities.
The runway, which is 7,002 feet long and 150 feet wide, has a weight-bearing capacity of 450,000 pounds. It is part of a $71 million improvment plan. It is the largest single development project in Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Aviation history. The airport's executive director, Ken Weigand, told the crowd that the project included 53 thousand tons of concrete, 25 miles of electrical wire and 7 acres of paint for the runway and taxi markers.
Loughmiller said that the airport is a key component to moving economic development in McKinney and Collin County forward and added that the City of McKinney is committed to working toward that end. The airport already brings more than $2 million in tax revenues to McKinney Independent School District the Mayor said. To further spur economic growth, the Mayor indicated that the city is offering incentives to neighboring cities.
"We need to think in terms of in investing in Collin County and investing in the region and this airport is the only regional airport in Collin County," Loughmiller said. "We're reaching out to the cities around us. We have offered a 25 percent abatement (on McKinney business personal property tax on airplanes worth at least $10 million) to cities who are willing to bring their corporate clients to this airport for corporate aviation."
“As the airport continues to add state-of-the art equipment and amenities like the new air traffic control tower and a wider, heavier duty runway, the impact it has on economic growth in the region will continue to grow,” Loughmiller said. “Now we are looking to the operational future of Collin County Regional Airport, as it serves to help create an even more prosperous Collin County and North Texas.”
County Judge Keith Self told guests that he is delighted to see that the City of McKinney has put the incentive program into place saying, "I can't tell you how important that is and how unique that is - that this city has reached out to give incentives to cities around them." Self also said that he believes that the airport will eventually offer commercial service, particularly in the wake of the enormous growth that the Collin County area anticipates.
Following the brief ceremony, guests boarded three aircraft which took off for a short flight from the new runway.
The width and weight-bearing capacity can accommodate larger, heavier aircraft, including commercial jets. Other additional new projects at the airport include the relocation of FM546 using aviation grants to accommodate the runway and a future extension, a new air traffic control tower and a recently unveiled regional incentive for other cities and entities in Collin County.
See the video below for a peek into the ceremony and see the first flights take off using the new runway.