Regional airports are the lifeblood of a community, and that has special meaning for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) a pilot himself.
He calls the expansion of the Raleigh County Memorial Airport, that kicked off today’s Beckley groundbreaking — transformative for Southern West Virginia.
The $4.5 million he secured in federal investments for the project will develop 105 acres of site-ready property.
According to Manchin, it’s a high-priority project so it made sense for everyone from all sides of the aisle and levels of government to come together.
“Industrial parks are hard to come by… Tom (Cochran, RCMA manager) said it; West Virginia is not the easiest place to build, none of it is flat land,” the senator says.
We have nothing like this… it is a special space.
“This is the only park in West Virginia where a corporation can have a corporate office and business offices and have the corporate aircraft in the hanger beside it to be able to travel anywhere in the world that you could go to or want to and come back to home base,” said Manchin.
The senator says West Virginia is a juggernaut as far as energy and coal reproduced are concerned.
“Basically, the natural gas that we’re producing right now keeps the country energized — so you’re not going to get rid of coal, gas or oil anytime soon in the future,” the senator said.
And West Virginia is rural, the entire state is in the Appalachian region… so we only have a few airports that everyone can accommodate.
“Clarksburg, north central; you have Wheaton, which is a large airport; you have Martinsburg, over in the eastern panhandle; you have Charleston, you have Yeager, then you have Beckley,” said Manchin. “Beckley’s the only one we have in this location that can handle this amount of traffic (commercial and also industrial).”
These companies want to be where it’s happening. And southern West Virginia is where it’s happening.
“Now to be able to have a beautiful park — and on top of that have all the amenities of any industrial area, any big thriving metropolis,” the senator said. “This is what I think’s great and unique about this project.