After years of discussion and debate, a runway expansion at the Canandaigua Airport is set to get under way this year. For many local businesses, the expansion will equate to added opportunities and revenue.
“It puts us on the map for all seasons,” said George Hamlin, CEO of Canandaigua National Bank & Trust. Hamlin added that he’s been waiting on these changes since 1980.
“If you’re operating a small or big business, you can stop in Ohio and be back for dinner time. You can talk face-to-face with clients, or be in two cities in one day,” Hamlin said. “It’s an enormous advantage.”
Final design plans and specifications for the expansion are set to be completed in spring 2012, with construction to follow shortly afterward. Chad Nixon, the vice president of McFarland Johnson — the group overseeing the project — said in December that “ideally” the entire project would be complete in 2012, but it could get pushed back to 2013 based on any unforeseen circumstances.
The project includes a 2,300-foot extension to the main runway, Runway 13; a 2,300-foot extension to Taxiway A; and a 25-foot widening to runways 13 to 31.
“We had many businesses that expressed interest (in an expansion),” said Mike Manikowski, executive director of the Ontario County Industrial Development Agency, which operates the airport. He added that larger manufacturers or visitors of any sort will have greater access to the area with the expansion.
“It’s a plus for the county and all corporations that need to use aircrafts,” said Paul Hyland, the CEO of Mercy Flight Central. “They can go to an airport now that’s closer to their destination. It’s convenient and safer.”
Manikowski added that the expansion could also help attract new businesses, for instance, ones looking to take advantage of the Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center off Route 332 in Canandaigua.
While the expansion could help attract business or widen client bases, it can also potentially make them more efficient. The health system in particular is a large employer within the county that could see benefits from a completed runway expansion.
“Increased capacity of our regional airport means increased ease of access for the business community,” said Thompson Health President and CEO Linda Farchione. “Ultimately, this is the type of initiative that makes the community continue to grow and thrive."
While larger local businesses are pleased with the upcoming expansion, the project has had its detractors over the years. One large concern has been that increased air traffic could mean increased noise for nearby neighbors. Both Hamlin and Hyland said that is a misconception.
“We go with two turboprop planes all night, and people don’t know we do it,” Hyland said. “(Residents) aren’t going to see or hear anything different.”
Hamlin emphasized that most of the noise comes from aviation lessons — a plane hovering around the area — rather than from large jets that are in and out of the area quickly. Either way, he said, the positives of the project are too much to ignore.
“It just opens up the possibility that people can start a business here,” Hamlin said.