The recession has been hard on a lot of businesses, including air travel.
At the Smyrna Rutherford County Airport, air traffic dipped significantly over the past few years but John Black, executive director of the Smyrna Rutherford County Airport Authority, said business is soaring once again and may be a sign of what's to come.
“We've grown tremendously,” said Black, “we've laid a lot of groundwork over the years to position ourselves to be able to take advantage of what we think is coming down the road.”
With 8,000 feet of runway space, the airport can accommodate any aircraft, even commercial jets.
Black told Nashville's News 2 they are seeing a lot of growth in corporate aviation.
He explained, “We kind of have our own niche, and corporate aviation is how corporate America moves around. It's so important for business to be able to do that, to be able to go from a smaller community to smaller community.”
The regional airport is also a big plus for the county's economic development team, who includes the airport as a pitch to businesses thinking of moving to the area.
“When our charter and corporate aviation goes up, that means those corporation executives are out, moving around, making more deals,” said Black, “and once those deals come to fruition, then you see it in the economy a little later.”
Even though the airport did see a dip in traffic, Black said they've still continued planning for the future and the plan includes more expansion in 2012.
“That's what we're after,” he said, “to grow the business, to grow our local economy and create more jobs for Rutherford County and Middle Tennessee.”
The airport can also end 2011 on a high note, after snagging the airport of the year award in 2011.
“I think what we see here is a leading indicator for the economy,” said Black.
Awarded by the state Aeronautics Commission, the airport of the year award is its highest honor. The commission cited runway improvements, customer service and financial stability.