Washington, DC, Oct 21 – U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) visited with two visionary groups in eastern Kentucky on Wednesday, October 19th. During a monthly meeting in Whitesburg, the Letcher County Planning Commission updated Congressman Rogers on progress and plans for economic development and tourism in Letcher County.
“The Letcher County Planning Commission is on the right track,” said Rogers. “You can change your outlook and make great things happen in your community by getting involved. I commend you for being proactive and planning your work and working your plan.”
Congressman Rogers later joined the newly formed Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, made up of eight counties, including Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, and Pike Counties. Together, they announced the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a Small Community Air Service Development grant to implement a scheduled passenger airline service at the Pikeville-Pike County Regional Airport. The $750,000 Federal Aviation Administration grant will provide a revenue guarantee for a commercial airline service to be established in eastern Kentucky.
“This grant is a big step toward opening greater doors of opportunity for eastern Kentucky,” said Rogers. “This project has been in the works for more than two years and I am pleased that the Department of Transportation recognized the hard work and commitment from area leaders to bring this much needed air service to the region. A scheduled passenger airline service will benefit economic development, tourism and much more.”
The Small Community Air Service Development Program offers highly competitive grants to small communities across the country where air fares are higher than average and improved service will provide benefits to businesses, educational institutions and other enterprises. The City of Pikeville was one of only 29 communities selected across 22 states to receive this grant. Only three of the awards will assist communities in acquiring scheduled airline service. City and airport leaders are working with L.B. Schmidt and Associates, LLC to continue discussions with a commercial carrier.
“This is not a Pikeville project. It is an eastern Kentucky project,” said Tracy Syck, Chairperson of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce that represents eight counties. “Businesses in cities along U.S. 23 and highway 80 will all have a local commercial airport to call their own. We are working diligently to secure an air carrier that will be as committed to our region as we are.”
“We are leaps ahead of where we were last year and everybody is really excited,” said Donovan Blackburn, Pikeville City Manager. “I believe you’re going to see commercial air service at the Pikeville-Pike County Regional Airport very soon. We will be making some improvements at the airport and working with TSA for security at the terminal to prepare for our new air service.”
The Pikeville-Pike County Regional Airport is approximately 6 miles northwest of Pikeville, Kentucky. More than 20 aircraft are based on its field, including single- and multi-engine airplanes.
Grants are awarded through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The FAA is responsible for the safety of civil aviation.
Rogers has served Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District since 1981. With a focus on economic development, job creation, fighting illegal drugs and preserving Appalachia’s natural treasures, he has a reputation for listening to his constituents and fighting for the region he represents. For more information visit www.halrogers.house.gov.