Officials running the Wilmington Air Park say they have reason to be optimistic as they ramp up marketing efforts to fill the still mostly vacant space.
In June it will be three years since the Clinton County Port Authority took over the 15 hundred acres, 2 fully functioning commercial runways, 150 acres of tarmac and 3 million square feet of building space. Thousands of jobs vanished when DHL shut down domestic operations there. Now the Wilmington Air Park is starting an aggressive marketing campaign with a new website and plans for ad placement and trade show visits. Port Authority Executive Director Kevin Carver says he has seen more activity in the past month than all of last year, recently responding to eight or nine leads.
"We're open for business. We are optimistic. It feels to us like the economy is starting to take a turn, all be it a small turn but it feels like it's starting to turn to us and we believe that we're ready and uniquely positioned to take advantage of opportunities as they arise."
Carver says the Air Force Research Lab continues to test unmanned drones at the Air Park. If chosen by the FAA, it may eventually become a national drone test center. A new maintenance and repair hangar (Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services) will be finished in about a year, creating 250 jobs and Air Transport Services Group is moving one of its administrative offices from Arkansas. That will create additional jobs.