Southport Aerospace has come a long way in five years. CEO Peggy May brought the Portage Rotary Club up to date at its luncheon yesterday.
"Our jobs have grown from 2012 to 2016, and I also explained how the GDP and wages have increased," says May. "We're very proud of that because we've actually grown by 20 jobs. These are full-time equivalent jobs. So, that means some of them could be part-time or seasonal. But we've actually grown by that much, and it's made a huge impression on the impact in the community."
She notes Southport pays more taxes, and spends much more money on everything from capital improvements to wages and jobs. May adds the average wage for Southport's 570 current jobs is $60,000, while the national average is around $45,000, noting it's likely due to the skilled and trained occupations that comprise a lot of Southport's operations.
May says club members asked her about the future use of the airport and if it can be grown outside of the military. She notes she fully believes they will, and are always looking at that and searching for new opportunities. Inquiries are currently in from as far away as China and Saudi Arabia in regard to their airfield.
"Sometimes it takes a long time to bring those to fruition, but the fact that people are interested and we can get people interested in our airport, and being out in Portage, I think those are all great opportunities for us," May continues. "Yes, we'd love to see other things other than military out there. Obviously, they're a big part of our airfield and what we do. But there are times of the day when a passenger aircraft could run one flight a day or ten flights a day, and not really impact the operation of the military flight training currently taking place there."
May adds they have plenty of room for development: "It's a great big brand new kind of facility that we haven't exhausted all the opportunity yet."