The Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority invited about 50 guests to a luncheon under a tent pitched on the tarmac and later toured the new terminal building. The intention was to entice local business leaders to donate toward the building fund.
The cost of the terminal is $2.41 million. The airport authority is seeking to raise $1.7 million in private funds.
J&J Construction, Chattanooga, won the bid to construct the 8,000-square-foot building. The job was divided into three categories: site preparation, security and the terminal building. Site preparation and security are funded through grants. The terminal building is funded by the state and the city up to $350,000 each. The airport authority is responsible for raising the remaining $1.7 million.
The airport authority hired Bill Allen to help raise the remainder through private donations. He is paid a flat rate of $5,750 a month and expenses up to $500 a month. So far, he has billed the airport authority $31,783 for raising $190,000.
J&S Restaurants chief executive officer Mark Johnson said he has been “totally on-board with the airport from the beginning. I think the city of Cleveland really needs it and this is long overdue. After coming here today I’m more enthused than I was before. I can’t believe how nice it’s going to be.”
He said people would one day realize the importance of Cleveland Regional Jetport. Though the new facility is not important for the operation of his family-owned business, it is important to lure big business to town. In that sense, all business benefits.
Johnson flies a Cessna 182 as a hobby. He plans on building a hangar at the new airport on Dry Valley Road. As a potential donor, “I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do. I don’t know how much I’m going to have to spend to build my new hangar, but I am going to try to support the airport.”
Airport Authority member Lou Patten said officials traveled all over East Tennessee to find the right look, including state-of-the-art meeting facilities.
“We think this is going to be a truly great front door for Cleveland — for our visitors who come in by air and for our business prospects,” he said.