State, county and local dignitaries turned out early Thursday to celebrate the groundbreaking for the new terminal at the Covington Municipal Airport.
They included Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Sen. Rick Jeffares (R-17) and JaNice Van Ness (R-43), Representatives Dave Belton (R-112) and Pam Dickerson (D-113) as well as representatives from local businesses and Georgia Piedmont Technical College-Newton campus.
“This is a great day,” Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston said. “The new state-of-the-art terminal will solidify Covington as the number one place to do business in the Southeast. We’re planning to do spectacular things out here, and the airport is a huge part of it.”
He received applause when he told the gathering that in the next few weeks there would be an announcement about future projects in the works that would bring in $500,000 in investments and 3,000 jobs.
Expressing appreciation for the forward-thinking of Covington’s council and mayor, Cagle said, “Atlanta-Hartfield International Airport is the busiest airport in the world. What’s important to know is that back in the 1970s, Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta were about the same size.
“Atlanta decided to make a $500 million investment,” he said. “Had those visionaries not made the decisions they made [about the airport], Birmingham could have won.”
Cagle told the crowd of about 50 people that he was there to help celebrate that the community is willing to make strategic investments. “More companies will want to expand here. Covington is being looked at by industries.
“Covington is getting it right,” he said. “A lot of communities around the state are not.”
The planned terminal just off of Nisshinbo Drive will have two conference rooms, a pilot’s lounge, an office for a rental car business, and other facilities. The project is expected to cost $2.1 million, with $1.1 million coming from the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Joseph Robinson, Aviation Project Manager with GDOT, said “Covington’s airport could become one of the most important in the southeast. [This] shows how dedicated the city is … We hope to continue relations further and hope to build this airport how you see it.”
There are 11,000 take-offs and landings annually at the Covington Municipal Airport.