The Camdenton Airport currently accommodates small planes and limited traffic. In order to expand the airport and its functions, a runway expansion is critical.
The current runway is 4,000 feet in length which is 1,000 feet less than the "magic number" according to Corey Leuwerke, owner of AirLake Aviation who manages the airport for the city.
Most insurance companies will not allow corporations to fly their planes into airports with runways less than 5,000 feet. When Leuwerke and his company took over the Camdenton airport in 2007, he knew there were a few improvements that were needed to help the airport reach its potential. First, a weather system was added along with better landing instruments.
"The third thing we told them [the city of Camdenton] is that we need a longer runway," Leuwerke recalled.
In order to gain support for a new runway, the airport started a letter writing campaign. The city of Camdenton and the Camden County Commissioners were on board quickly and were joined by major corporations, state representatives, senators and other elected officials.
"We finally got it approved around last fall," Leuwerke said.
"We are currently in the environmental assessment phase and should be done by the end of the year," Mike Nichols, City of Camdenton's Economic Planner, said. "Next is land acquisition, then design work and some construction including moving dirt. Then it will be time for construction."
The expansion benefits much more than the airport alone.
"It opens up the door to more aircraft," Leuwerke said. "It may take a few years, but I'm hoping it brings more businesses to the city."
The city of Camdenton hopes that the improvements to the airport and the Industrial Park next door play a role in economic development in the area.
"It beneifts in many different ways. It allows bigger aircraft to use our airport. increases traffic out there and allows for corporate jets. It opens us up to a much bigger market of use. It also plays a role in economic development," Nichols said. "It all ties in with our quality of life and low cost of living. We think it will be very appealing."
The total runway expansion project is currently estimated at $6.2 million over the entire life of the project. 90% of the cost will be covered by state and federal grants. The city's cost will be 10% at the most.
The completion of the project is set for 2016.