Salina, KS

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Rebound Underway, Cleanup on Horizon at Airport

KSAL StaffApril 22, 2014

When Hawker Beechcraft left Salina two years ago, they packed up over 230 jobs and broomed an estimated $12 million dollars in payroll out of  the local economy.

Tim Rogers, Executive Director at Salina Regional Airport tells KSAL News, new tenants have begun the turnaround at the Airport Complex, “In 25 month we have leased 175,000 square feet to seven different businesses and organizations,” he said.

The space comes at a higher price than Hawker paid, generating more revenue for the Airport Authority.

“We had lost some $233,000 in revenue from Hawker Beechcraft. Now we’ve replaced that revenue and exceeded that level with new leasing activity at $326,000 of new revenue.”

Rogers says the 55 new jobs around the complex isn’t the only upside to the story, “I expect we’ll be able to reduce the mill levy this August because of the leasing activity,” he said.

The long awaited cleanup of contamination in the Salina Airport Industrial Area is also beginning this Spring. “We are in a three year, to five year time period to get the cleanup started,” Rogers said.

“Citizens and residents will see actual event investigative work conducted through this new process by the public entities through this spring and summer.”

Local officials had been trying to get federal help in cleaning up contamination that was left when the military vacated Schilling Airforce Base in the late 1960s.

The main concern is two large underground plumes of contamination, one in the north part of the Airport Industrial Area, and another on the south end. A large plume of the solvent trichloroethylene, or TCE, is in the groundwater and soil. TCE at the time was used as an industrial solvent and has since been classified as a human carcinogen.

As part of the agreement, the federal government will fund 90 percent of the cleanup, with local entities funding 10 percent. Estimated cost to begin the cleanup is $9.3 million.

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