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Airplane maker still looking at Covington

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- A light sport aircraft maker is still scoping out land at Covington Municipal Airport for a manufacturing plant, City Manager Steve Horton recently told the City Council.

The unidentified manufacturer initially submitted a request for information regarding 72 acres near the industry Nisshinbo but is now interested in a different tract off Williams Road. Horton said he gave them an estimated cost of $35,000 per acre.

The 100,000-square-foot plant is expected to employ about 80 people initially, and that could increase to as many as 600 in a few years, Horton previously told the council.

The company makes personal aircraft for one to two people and is expected to reach a decision on a plant location around mid-year, said Shannon Davis, economic development director with the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce.

In other news, the council went into closed session Monday night to discuss land acquisition at the airport. In open meeting, they voted to allow the Industrial Development Authority, on behalf of the city, to approach Nisshinbo about buying additional land to improve access to the airport.

Also, the council agreed the Airport Advisory Committee should remain in place for the time being. An airport authority has been appointed, but is currently only overseeing a 5-acre tract of property where a new hangar is being built.

The Airport Advisory Committee has been in place for eight years and gives recommendations on the entire property.

"I see (the airport authority), for all practical purposes, as a landlord for the time being," said Airport Engineer Vincent Passariello, adding the committee may need to be phased out in the future, when the entire airport is turned over to the airport authority.

Horton said he doesn't want confusion and said the authority will not have to go through the committee for approval of any of its decisions.

"One should not overshadow the other," he said.