The Norfolk Regional Airport has begun the process of building a new terminal and fixed base operator (FBO) building.
Members of the Norfolk Airport Authority met Monday night to meet with Ryan Hanson, a representative of HDR, a design and architectural firm in Omaha that is helping in planning for the new facility.
A design has not been finalized, but a new building could include a new hangar, increased energy efficiency and amenities such as a new lounge and meeting space.
Hanson said the top priority for a new facility would be offering more and better services for pilots.
“Pilots have options; there are other facilities around,” Hanson said. “They could land elsewhere, but a new facility would make people land here instead of elsewhere.”
Dan Geary, airport authority board chairman, said an important step will be securing funding and convincing the public and city officials that the new building is worth the cost.
“We have to justify spending taxpayers’ money,” Geary said. “Say we spend $2 million on an FBO building, what impact does that have on the community? What can we tell the taxpayers?”
Hanson said comparing the economic impact of the current facility and a new one is difficult, but steps are being taken to determine that. The state is currently evaluating airports across Nebraska and will issue a report about the economic impact of airports throughout the state, and preliminary results will be available in the near future.
Hanson said updated facilities would be essential to maintaining and enhancing the economic impact of the airport.
“Facilities are a top priority for businesses that do business at the airport and need the airport,” Hanson said. “Having a top-notch facility really draws people in.”
Board members agreed that a new terminal building is necessary.
Richard Clausen, vice chairman of the airport authority, said the current FBO building is not impressive, and board member Doris Kingsbury said it’s even embarrassing when dignitaries come to Norfolk and use the facility for things like press conferences.
The process is still in the early planning stages, as the board is still looking to finalize a design and calculate the total cost of the project, and eventually appeal to the city for funding likely some time next year.