MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Leaders from across the Palmetto State gathered Friday morning to celebrate the grand opening of the new general aviation terminal at Myrtle Beach International Airport.
The $4.5 million project was paid for mostly by state and federal grants. Local airport officials are anticipating they will get millions more in return.
"We're looking for an increase in economic activity because of this terminal, an increase in capacity much more than the old terminal, and you'll see a big difference with large jets coming in here," General Aviation Manager Michael Marlowe said.
Nearly 50,000 people travel through the general aviation terminal each year, and airport officials estimate close to 70 percent of them are private investors traveling on private jets and corporate planes.
"We're hoping that the CEOs from the Fortune 500 companies that come through here will not only want to vacation here but will want to buy property and develop and have businesses here," Marlowe said.
Last year alone the general aviation industry pumped half a billion dollars into the state economy, and now local leaders are hoping to get a piece of that pie.
"We have an absolutely state of the art facility for folks that are in general aviation that includes not only pilots of small airplanes but corporate jets as well," said Horry County Councilman Howard Barnard, who helped generate money and support for the new terminal.
"This new terminal could bring all kinds of economic development to the Grand Strand, not only in tourism but creation of new jobs as well," Barnard said.
Among the other special guests present for the groundbreaking ceremony were Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, Horry County Chairwoman Liz Gilland and Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes.