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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019 1 week ago

U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz: 'City has potential for aerospace industry growth'

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The Congressman got a bird's eye view of the city's airport park.
by: Jarleene Almenas News Editor

As U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz ascended in a helicopter over the city of Ormond Beach with the mayor and the city's economic development director, Waltz said he saw "a lot of opportunity." 

The congressman was in town on Tuesday, Aug. 6, during scheduled visit designed to explain and showcase the city's economic development investments in the aviation and aerospace industry, with a focus on the impact of its municipal airport. Waltz got a helicopter tour of the airport, as well as a tour of Hudson Technologies, a local manufacturer.

Congressman Michael Waltz takes the front seat beside the pilot. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

Waltz said that he could see the city's elected officials have been laying the potential for smart growth in this area.

“I’m a big proponent of growth and creating a business-friendly environment, but we also have to do it in a way that is in keeping with what made everybody want to move here in the first place — Namely preserving our environment," Waltz said. "I don’t think that’s mutually exclusive. I think there’s a way that you can do both of those things.”

Congressman Michael Waltz, Airport Manager Steven Lichliter and Economic Development Director Brian Rademacher speak before lunch. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

With the aerospace industry in full swing in Volusia County at a time where Waltz said there is a chronic shortage of pilots in the U.S. Air Forcer and commercial airlines, the congressman believes this area has the potential to create an environment for businesses to grow and employees to "thrive." He called boosting the local aerospace industry a strategic move to move the workforce into the 21st century.

“That’s not just tremendous for Florida," Waltz said. "That’s tremendous for the whole country.”

Congressman Michael Waltz and Mayor Bill Partington prepare to board the helicopter as Brian Rademacher and Steven Lichliter watch. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

The Ormond Beach Municipal Airport has recently seen its share of improvements. Earlier this year, the city was able to complete the rehabilitation of Runway 9/27 and improve the heliport. The Federal Aviation Administration provided the city with a $2.2 million grant for this project, according to an economic development update from May 2019. Ormond Beach also received $200,000 from the Florida Department of Transportation, which also helped in designing the runway and taxiway extension.

The economic development update stated that the rehabilitation and design projects funded by these two grants are step two of a three-part process to rehab and extend the airport's primary runway, as part of the city's airport Capital Improvement Plan goals established in the last airport master plan update. Construction of the extension could begin as early as this fall.

David Slick, Maryam Ghyabi, Brian Rademacher, Congressman Michael Waltz, Mayor Bill Partington, Debbie Cotton, Steven Lichliter, City Manager Joyce Shanahan and other members of the community. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

Airport Manager Steven Lichliter said during a lunch with the congressman that the runway extension will attract more business to the area, and improve service for the current industries. 

"It's a huge asset for us," Lichliter said.

Also in attendance was Maryan Ghyabi, founder of Ormond Beach engineering firm Ghyabi and Associates, and she said the city is in a "great spot" regarding its business growth.

Mayor Bill Partington exits the helicopter at the conclusion of the tour. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

“Everything is just great now, and we haven’t had that," Ghyabi said. "This is the time with everything lined up in the city of Ormond Beach that there’s a major team that is working to get the city of Ormond Beach the recognition that it really needs.”

That recognition, she said, comes in the form of funding. Waltz said that as long as he is in office, Ormond Beach will have a shot at federal dollars. 

“Modes of transportation are critical to an economy, and here in Ormond, which the mayor was just pointing out, you have a major highway intersection, you have  a rail service and you have an airport soon to be extended the best type of aircraft," Waltz said. "I don’t know what more they can do to make this an attractive area.”

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