North Central West Virginia Airport director says facility needs to keep its momentum

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – Phase I completion of the Aerotech Business Park creates 50 acres of flat land ready for development on the grounds of the North Central West Virginia Airport in Bridgeport.

Gov. Justice joined airport officials last week at a ceremony celebrating the completion.

Airport director Rick Rock said the facility is already home to Lockheed Martin, NASA, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Pratt & Whitney Engine Services and many more support companies.

Rick Rock

Now that land is available, Rock wants other support or major aerospace companies to become a part of the Mid-Atlantic Aerospace Complex (MAAC) at the airport.

“We have some of the biggest names in aerospace there at the airport already and there should be a lot people surrounding them,” Rock said during a recent appearance on WAJR’s “Talk of the Town.” “There are a lot of those companies that support those groups that are outside the state and we don’t see why they shouldn’t be right here in the state of West Virginia.”

Recent growth at the MAAC has included the addition of a regional jet maintenance hub operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries(MHI). The company added two hangars valued at $20 million with plans to expand the labor force by 1,000. Additionally, Pierpont Community and Technical College operates an Aviation Maintenance Technology program that allows students to finish a degree and go to work on the same complex for MHI.

“We do have a good reputation within the industry for doing very good work,” Rock said. “West Virginians have that great work ethic and we just need more of them.”

Many people have relocated to the area for the jobs, but Rock sees an opportunity to keep talent in the state with this wide array of companies.

“Long term I think we’ll fine, the awareness among our young people is probably the highest it’s been,” Rock said. “We just need to keep making people aware and give an option to stay home because that’s what we want then to do.”

Part of Phase I also prepared 17 acres for a new terminal building. Rock said the existing terminal was built in 1960, only has one gate and no longer meets the needs of the growing facility.

“We just received a $15 million grant to build a new terminal,” Rock said. “That is under design and will be out for bid in the fourth quarter of this year, awarded and break ground next year if all goes well.”

Rock said when the governor announced $20 million dollars in help for the airport in August of 2019 it laid the foundation for the most recent accomplishment. The North Central West Virginia Airport has a $1 billion impact in the region and that is expected to grow.

“It’s been a very busy summer,” Rock said. “It’s exciting how well it’s going, but we have to keep moving forward.”

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