The Plane Truth About The Bessemer Airport...

With the recent developments with Airbus in Mobile, Alabama as well as Amazon in Bessemer, Alabama and other major companies seeking to set up operations in the state, corporate accessibility is the key. Corporate and political leaders need to be able to reach their destination with as few impediments, if any as possible. As the old adage goes, “location, location, location”.

The Bessemer Airport (EKY) is ideally situated as the western corridor of Jefferson County in terms of accessibility. EKY gives its patrons a very convenient access to I-20, I-65, US Hwy 31, and US Hwy 280. As somewhat of a small city in comparison to neighboring Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery, Bessemer truly is the gateway to Birmingham, Hoover, and Tuscaloosa. Therefore Bessemer necessitates a first rate professional airport and facility.

Recently in June of this year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), announced that 20 airports in Alabama would share a nearly $26 million grant from the US Department of Transportation (DOT). The grant would be used for a host of upgrades and improvements at airports throughout the state. According to Senator Richard Shelby (R) who is also the chairman Senate Committee on Appropriations which constructs and enacts FAA funding legislation, ”Airport infrastructure impacts overall economic success, and as a result of this funding, twenty of Alabama’s Airports will receive the upgrades and advances needed to continue serving communities and driving development”. Of the $25.9 million dollar federal grant, Bessemer’s airport will receive $2,227,393 to rehabilitate its runway and improve lighting. This improves the quality of (EKY) as it will now be able to handle more aircraft and conduct night time landings.

Coming on the heels of the FAA grant, the Bessemer Airport Authority held a groundbreaking ceremony June 25th at the airport which marks the beginning of an enclosed hangar construction. This was in part due to the recent grant, as well as a loan from Cadence Bank. The total amount for the hangars will cost $750,000. The individual T-hangars, ten in all, will be 14,220 square feet and designed to accommodate Cirrus aircraft. Cirrus Aircraft is the aviation leader in aircraft manufacturers designing their aircraft using state of the art composite technologies and avionics, and has also designed some of the safest light aircraft features in the aircraft industry.

On hand for the historic event were members of the Bessemer Municipal Airport Authority, Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley, Bessemer City Council members Donna Thigpen and Jarvis Collier, Jefferson County Commissioner Jimmie Stephens, member of the Bessemer Area Chamber of Commerce, representatives of the Aeronautics Bureau of the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), Cadence Bank, Garver, Inc. and Wayne Davis Construction, Donna Thigpen Bessemer Councilor District 4 and Bessemer Airport Authority - Treasurer, Jefferson County Commission President & District 3 Representative Jimmie Stephens and others.

What the groundbreaking signifies is that the Bessemer Airport is growing and the city of Bessemer is growing. Just last September, Birmingham based commercial real estate developer and acquisition giant Sanders Capital Partners purchased three corporate hangars at the Bessemer Airport for $1.3 million. According to general counsel for Sanders Capital Partners, Jackson Stewart on the company’s website, “Sanders Capital Partners is optimistic about becoming an active stakeholder at the airport. Amazon and other recent announcements are encouraging news for us and for Bessemer, but many may not know that Bessemer is playing an increasingly significant role in the aviation mix in the greater Birmingham/Tuscaloosa markets and we are seeing this role expand aggressively for a variety of reasons”.

Project management and design of the hangars will be conducted by yet another leader in aviation construction - Garver Inc. With six decades of experience, Garver Inc. has been an industry leader in designing runways and hangar facilities, rehabilitating taxiways, updating lighting systems with the most advanced technologies, and bringing to life the most welcoming terminal facilities. Garver Inc. offers a wide range of services with a focus on aviation, construction, facilities design, federal, power, transportation, survey, and water. Garver is currently listed in the top 150 of the Engineering News-Record's prestigious Top 500 Design Firms list. Garver Inc. is also recognized by the Zweig Group as a best firm to work for in the multi-discipline category for six consecutive years. Founded in 1919, Garver Inc. is celebrating its 100th year with a series of client appreciation events and by supporting STEM education at 100 schools by donating funds and supplies.

While Garver Inc. is overseeing the project management and design, Wayne Davis Construction of Montevallo will be serving as the general contractor. Wayne Davis Construction is an Alabama licensed general contractor which specializes in commercial and industrial construction projects ranging from churches, warehouses, office buildings to airport hangars, trucking terminals and fire towers.

The city of Bessemer and its airport are definitely on the move. The airport and its location were one of the decisive points that attracted firearms manufacturer Steyr Arms USA to the city of Bessemer in 2014. Online retail giant, Amazon saw tremendous benefits of having access to a smaller, less congested airport in close proximity to its facility, which as a major factor in the company opening facility in Bessemer. According to Bessemer Airport Manager Tim Wasyluka, “what many of the pilots and passengers who fly in and out of Bessemer like the most is that it is quiet. You don’t have to be concerned with the pains of major airport travel such as TSA and long lines. Here you’re easy in and out, plus you’re able to maintain a sense of anonymity. We have had numerous celebrity entertainers, professional athletes, and corporate leaders that have flown in and out of Bessemer. They chose this airport because they wanted to enjoy a sense of calm and quiet travel.”

It was for these same reasons that Oprah Winfrey chose to purchase her own jet. High value celebrities, when engaging in commercial travel many are often stopped for autograph and photograph requests. Those who use smaller airports with lesser access by the general public chose to do so to avoid such encounters.

The Bessemer airport is in very close proximity to Ross Bridge Golf resort and Spa, regions Traditional at Shoal Creek, the Porsche Driving School, the Galleria Mall and surrounding shops, and is ideal for avoiding the cluttered travel to regional events such as those at the Barber’s Motorsports track, Talladega 500, the SEC Baseball Tournament, and Iron Bowl when held in neighboring Tuscaloosa.

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