Stennis Improves Runways, Receives Hangar Grant
By Tiffany Goodwin, Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission

Stennis runway improvements were achieved with $485 million in AIP funding.

In early August, the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission (HCPHC) announced the completion of $4.85 million in runway improvements at Stennis International Airport in Kiln, MS. This was followed a few days later with the announcement of a grant to build an additional hangar at the airport.

The corporate hangar’s cost was projected in HCPHC’s 2018 annual budget at $665,000. The $325,000 grant, awarded by the Mississippi Transportation Commission’s Multimodal Program, will cover approximately 50 percent of that cost. The 100-by-100-foot hangar will include office space and aircraft storage. It is expected to attract corporate and unmanned-aircraft system (UAS) companies, from research to flight operations.

“This award will greatly assist us in moving forward with the Commission’s planned enhancements to Stennis International Airport, to improve its desirability as a hub for moving goods and services into and out of south Mississippi,” said Stennis Airport Director Kevin Carlisle.

The Port and Harbor Commission’s CEO, Bill Cork, said, “Thanks to the state’s Transportation Commission’s Multimodal Program grant, Stennis Airport’s corporate hangar, which is but one of 13 capital projects planned, in progress or completed in Fiscal Year 2018, is a large step closer to becoming reality.”

The funds for the completed runway improvements were awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Program, underscoring the importance of the aviation and aerospace industry growth to the region.

“Maintaining and upgrading our facilities is key to increasing our competitiveness as a leader in aviation and aerospace along the Gulf Coast,” said Cork. “We are thankful for our congressional delegation and federal partners who understand the significance of maintaining first class facilities and infrastructure for both current and future aviation usage.”

With an 8,500-foot grooved and lighted runway, Stennis International Airport is a critical catalyst for economic growth along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. The 2,400 acres of the airport and airpark are essential to attracting new companies and diversifying economic activity. The airpark is currently home to 16 companies and nearly 400 employees – with room for expansion. Stennis Airport also serves as an important military training facility, relying on both the runway as well as Stennis Space Center’s acoustical buffer zone.

The last major runway pavement overlay was performed 20 twenty years ago and was at the end of its design life. By partnering with federal and local leaders, HCPHC has invested more than $34.1 million in the airpark and an additional $26.9 million in facility improvements at Port Bienville and the surrounding industrial parks over the last 10 years.