By Aspire Economic Development + Chamber Alliance
Johnson County is flanked by interstate highways to the east and soon to the west, and between them lies Indy South Greenwood Airport, an artery providing ease of travel while creating economic development opportunities for the area. Local business leaders should get to know this valuable resource and how it can help their business.
“The airport is an asset many communities do not have,” explained Aspire President and CEO Christian Maslowski. “We are often asked about distance to airports when companies are looking for a new site. Not only can we discuss our proximity to the Indianapolis International Airport, but we can boast the convenience of an executive airport within the county.” He added that the airport is located near I-65 on County Line Road where Johnson County joins southern Indianapolis, the areas served by Aspire.
Companies can use this airport to visit their Johnson County location and shave hours off travel time, Maslowski noted, or they can base their aircraft at the airport for more frequent use. “The airport is also the quickest route to downtown Indianapolis and its numerous sporting and political events, entertainment and corporate meetings. This makes it a popular landing spot for companies not based in Johnson County.” Maintaining infrastructure and implementing transportation plans are among the tactics in Aspire’s Economic Development Strategic Plan to boost site development for catalyst projects, he added.
Airport manager Rick Ferrill said the airport sees a fair amount of traffic. “A lot of the corporate visits at the airport are related to industries located in Greenwood and in Marion County.” He added that the airport’s proximity to I-65 is a plus for the airport, enabling busy executives to get to downtown Indy or elsewhere quickly.
Jet fuel sales and hangar rentals are among the major indicators of how busy the facility is, Ferrill explained. For example, jet fuel sales in 2020 were up 21.5 percent over 2019. And this trend is continuing. So far in 2021, jet fuel sales are up 13 percent over the same period last year. Since the pandemic began, corporations increased their use of the airport “since airline use was not conducive to travel.”
Ferrill agreed that the airport is an important economic development tool: “Corporate jets can fly in, conduct their business, then fly back or spend the evening.” He added that Greenwood’s executive airport is unique in that it is owned by the city and not an airport authority. “We are self-supporting; we don’t have to use tax money for our day-to-day operations,” Ferrill explained. “The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission has helped fund hangar construction, the Indiana State Police hangar and office, and the exterior of the new Aeronautical Center of Technology.”
A new Aeronautical Center of Technology is set to open this autumn at the airport, according to manager Roger Tomey. The center will offer STEM education opportunities through aviation, which Tomey terms a “great tool” for teaching these subjects. The center will accommodate 60 students per semester drawn from Johnson, Marion, Shelby, Bartholomew and Jennings counties.
“This type of experience can inspire students to pursue a rewarding career in aviation and other related STEM fields,” explained Tomey, a licensed private pilot, and certified advanced ground school instructor. “This program will be the only one in Indiana guaranteeing the student a pilot’s license upon completion of the curriculum.”
“This program will teach high school students how science and mathematics impact their daily lives,” Tomey added. “As a result, companies which choose to locate in Johnson County will have access to a workforce skilled in these areas and ready to provide practical applications in the business world.”
Aspire members can land their corporate aircraft here more conveniently and economically than at Indianapolis International Airport, Maslowski noted, and they can schedule flights for their business through private pilots. “Having such a high-quality local airport can give Johnson County a differentiator when competing for company location projects, and the wages from those new jobs are spent at local businesses,” Maslowski observed.