DAVIESS COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– A $1.5 million project years in the making is officially underway at the Daviess County Airport. 

Officials held a groundbreaking on Tuesday to celebrate the start of the plan to extend the airport’s runway to 5,001 ft. in length– an important baseline by federal standards, according to Daviess County Councilmember Matt Meredith.

“There’s a lot of databases they use and they don’t see [the Daviess County Airport] because we’re not 5,000 ft. long,” he said. “The whole goal of this project is let’s get to the 5,000 feet, let’s welcome them in, let’s get going.”

Allowing larger airplanes into the area will be a big factor in economic growth, according to the airport’s manager Erica Burkemper.

“The need is based on the growth of Daviess County,” she said. “We’re getting major companies coming in and those major companies found it’s faster to travel by air. It’s not uncommon anymore for a company to have a jet and a pilot on standby.”

The project will not involve federal dollars, and will be paid for by the Daviess County Council and through funds available to the airport. Burkemper said they are currently bidding out the project, and work is scheduled to start in July. When it does, the main runways will be closed for about 10 weeks while the construction is completed.

Meredith said it’s been a goal for years to have this work done– some who spoke at the groundbreaking said it’s been on their radar for around a decade. Burkemper said following Federal Aviation Administration guidelines was a hurdle for the project, but it was rewarding to see it come to fruition. 

“There’s environmental studies, there’s the design work. You got to sign off on anything but then, ‘oh no, something changed,’ and we’re back to [the last step,]” she said. “It’s also the county being able to support the project as well, and we’re finally at the right moment with the right people and the right funds.”