State and Local Officials Help Celebrate Jetport Expansion

SANFORD, N.C. — State and local officials gathered at Raleigh Exec on Monday morning for what was billed as an “Expansion Celebration” — a half-hour ceremony combining a groundbreaking for the jetport’s new corporate hangar and a ribbon cutting for sewer service that was recently extended to the general aviation airport serving the Research Triangle Region.

Both projects expand services available to all pilots and aircraft flying in and out of the region, but particularly for 185 aircraft and 11 businesses based at the jetport. “We are celebrating an event of two unique features for the airport,” said Airport Authority Chairman Carter Keller. “One that opens the opportunity for long-term growth and the other that will allow the airport to be more of a full-service provider to the aviation public.”

Keller said the jetport struggled for almost two decades with a septic system that limited growth. That problem was solved earlier this year when the airport was linked to the City of Sanford’s public sewer system. It was a $2.7 million project that was funded in large part by a $1.5 million grant from the Golden LEAF economic development foundation and supported by elected officials and governmental staff from Lee County and the City of Sanford.

Scott Hamilton, President and CEO of Golden LEAF, was one of the speakers at the celebration. He said Golden LEAF examines all potential projects to make sure they have a clear path to creating jobs and can “move the economic needle” for local communities.

After another speaker outlined Raleigh Exec’s economic impact — which includes generating $62.7 million in economic output and $2.42 million in state and local taxes each year — Hamilton said that was the kind of project Golden LEAF likes to support. “The tax base that was referred to, the jobs that were referred to, all bring what I refer to as hope, opportunity and dignity. And that’s what our mission is about — helping people have that hope, helping folks have opportunity and dignity.”

The groundbreaking ceremonially launched construction on a 16,250-foot corporate hangar with office space, a project that allows Raleigh Exec to accommodate large corporate jets that need to be stored for one night or many months. Airport Director Bob Heuts says the space is designed to handle a Gulfstream G650, one of the largest corporate jets manufactured, and is the first construction in the jetport’s new North Terminal Hangars, a development that offers seven shovel-ready sites for hangars 15,000 square feet or larger.

Bobby Walston, Director of the North Carolina Division of Aviation, told the audience of about 50 attendees that hangars are especially important for the state. The roughly 3,000 planes based at the state’s 72 public airports represent almost $1 billion in assets and, just like any asset, it’s important to take care of it.

Standing behind behind the podium where construction was about to begin, Walston looked around the jetport and addressed the audience. “It’s just incredible, the impact and the activity out here as being one of our premier airports in North Carolina,” he said. “Not just a general aviation airport, but a regional, business-class airport that has major impact.

“I know if I was day-to-day operating a business airplane, I would look hard here.”

About Raleigh Exec

Billed as a premier corporate gateway to the Research Triangle, Raleigh Exec Jetport is a general aviation airport serving corporate and recreational flights in a region of central North Carolina that includes Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill, Sanford and the Research Triangle Park. Raleigh Exec operates on 700 acres off of U.S. 1, just 15 miles from the Raleigh Outer Beltline, and is home to corporate aircraft, the North Carolina Forest Service, many aviation-related businesses and one of the nation’s largest and most respected flying clubs. More information is available at