Airport expansion could help land more jobs in Butler County

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 23, 2000

This past weekend, Senator Richard Shelby visited Greenville as he toured through various county seats across South Alabama. His stop in the Camellia City turned into a unique opportunity for him to visit our small airport and to discuss the current unemployment situation that plagues our communities.

Though it was disappointing to have only two members of our community on hand to hear from the senator, it quickly turned into a blessing as Councilman Dexter McLendon seized the opportunity to discuss a grant that Greenville had applied for several years ago, but had never been approved. The grant would help the city extend the airport runway and provide another advantage for the city in attracting new businesses and jobs.

It is not very often that local government leaders have the opportunity to speak with a United States Senator about the problems facing them, much less take him on a tour of the facility being discussed. McLendon should be commended for his foresight and in seizing another opportunity to promote Greenville. This particular instance could prove to be very beneficial to our community.

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Many people may say that there were many other problems facing Greenville and that the airport is not a priority. But, because Greenville has already applied for the grant it was more likely that the senator could help move that paperwork along than to cure our unemployment problems.

Besides, having a larger airport could certainly help in bringing new industries and businesses into Butler County. Most of the companies that come here to look have to fly in, and they would be more likely to remember Greenville if they were able to fly straight in rather than land in Montgomery and make the 45 minute drive south. Among the many attributes these business people are looking for in a community is convenience. Being able to land five minutes away from their facility rather than 45 minutes could be the determining factor between locating in Greenville or somewhere else with a longer runway.

Shelby said he would like to help Greenville in securing the grant, but said he could make no promises. Our city leaders need to make sure they do not let Shelby forget about his visit, not just to Greenville, but to the Greenville Municipal Airport as well.