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The past few months have marked some historic decisions for the progress and future of Oldham County. In October, we officially welcomed the first tenant of the new Oldham Reserve (formerly Eden Park). The Rawlings Co. moved in bringing 550 good-paying, knowledge-working, quality jobs. We officially opened the doors of three other businesses in that month representing an additional 50 new professional positions.
In November, fiscal court voted on an insurance premium tax. This money will be used to help balance the budget and assist fiscal court in operating in the black. But nothing could have sparked as much interest from the public as the discussions surrounding the Oldham County airport project.
On Nov. 12 the airport board officially presented the top three sites to be considered for an airport. The board chair, Jonathan Westbrook, did a great job presenting the information and describing the process. More than 400 residents from Oldham, Shelby and Henry counties attended and about 50 people had a chance to share their views and express their concerns.
Although the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce took the idea of an airport to fiscal court in early 2005, it was not to insinuate that one would be built. It was an idea for fiscal court to consider, and determine if this kind of economic development project could help balance the tax base in the long-run. The first phase of the feasibility study implies that an airport could be very good for Oldham County. It is necessary that much more information be collected.
The board of directors for the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce discussed the airport project at a special meeting Nov. 29 to determine if the chamber should continue to support this research. The board voted unanimously to support the continuation of a feasibility study that would determine if Oldham County is an appropriate location for a small commuter-style airport. Board members still agree that more information is necessary before finalizing an endorsement of such an important project.
The chamber board is interested in the same information as fiscal court members and many of our residents. What will an airport do to area land values? What is the real economic impact of an airport in our area? How can we be assured that it can be built to sustain itself and not become a burden on Fiscal Court or the taxpayers in Oldham County?
Although it will take some time to gather detailed information, the research already describes that an airport will bring great things to our community. We need to continue to grow our business base so our schools, athletics, the arts, and other non-profits can benefit from the financial and intellectual power a strong economy brings. We need quality jobs so our young people will return home to work and raise their families.
For the formal presentation on the airport made to fiscal court, visit www.oldhamcountychamber.com and select 'airport news.'
The views expressed in this column may not necessarily represent the views of The Oldham Era.