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Airport could see major development soon

By By Sherry Digmon
Advance Staff Writer
The Atmore Municipal Airport may be on the threshold of major development. Mayor Rodney Owens announced at Monday's City Council meeting that the city has been approved for a $320,300 industrial access grant for the airport.
Owens has been told, though not officially, that this is usually a 100 percent grant.
The funds will enable the city to construct a road on the east side of the airport, from Highway 31 to the city's property.
Having airport access will allow for development by private businesses.
With this news, Owens introduced Tom Meacham of Blast Off, Inc., which is located in the old David's Paint and Body Shop next to the airport. The company owns 5 acres of land adjacent to the airport.
Meacham's company refurbishes aircraft through government contracts. He currently has three locations n Atmore, Troy and Naval Air Station , Mayport, Fla.
Development of Atmore's airport will allow him to expand his business here as well as bring in other businesses that have already expressed an interest in this area.
He presented a proposed business plan to the council, in which he offered to negotiate in good faith with the city to provide services to the aviation community. Among the proposed services offered are credit card fuel sales (after hours), aviation fuel, jet fuel, pilot and passenger lounge, aircraft tie down service and storage, aircraft repairs and maintenance, rental car service and aircraft catering.
Meacham asked to purchase or lease from the city the space needed to build and house his corporate headquarters. As a general contractor, he also plans to build and lease enclosed storage hangars (T-hangars).
According to Meacham's proposal, the city will be responsible for connecting the runway and taxiway to the existing Blast Off facility.
Owens said he will consult with legal counsel about drawing up a suitable lease agreement with Blast Off.
Citing the Mercedes-Benz decision to locate in Vance, Ala., Meacham said accessibility to the area was one of the deciding factors.
In his proposal, he stated, "Atmore is accessible from the interstate system, has access to a major railroad line and is in close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. The City of Atmore Airport expansion program can and will complete the necessary requirements for attracting major businesses to look closely at what the City of Atmore and surrounding areas have to offer."