KENNESAW — For any homeowner who has ever sought a rezoning request, or business that has applied for a license, take heart; even a local governments can be stymied by bureaucracy.
Though originally slated for opening earlier this year, a new customs facility at McCollum Airport will be breaking ground in July.
“The delay has been in the design phase,” McCollum Airport Manager Karl Von Hagel said. “There have been no major issues; we are merely working within the process of having Customs and Border Patrol review and approve the plans at each step.”
Von Hagel said the federal agency required multiple submissions at each progression.
“I hadn’t anticipated it to take as long as it has,” he said in April, “but at this point we’re anticipating breaking ground the first of July, with a seven-month construction timetable.”
The 2,900-square-foot facility will be a single story building with administration, waiting, processing and detainment areas., complete with central heating and air conditioning. It is designed to process 20 passengers at a time.
“In metro Atlanta, you can have the same inspections done at Charlie Brown Airport and Dekalb-Peachtree, however, they don’t have any facilities in which to do the inspections,” Von Hagel said. “Inspections at those airports on done on the airplane or on the apron, rain, sleet or shine.”
Construction costs are expected to be about $750,000, according to Von Hagel, but there is no direct funding of the project by Cobb County. The airport operator, Atlanta Executive Jet Center is footing the construction tab, along with the salaries of the Customs and Border Patrol staff, which is estimated to be between $120,000 - $140,000 annually.
“The world has become an international business community and we currently have aircraft that leave here to travel internationally, but they can’t arrive back at McCollum,” Von Hagel said. “This addition will make Cobb County a more attractive destination for corporations that conduct international business.”
Calling it “an economic development improvement, Von Hagel said the new facility will boost the airport’s economic impact significantly. In 2010, the airport’s economic impact was valued at $112.4 million and it was credited with creating 842 jobs for the local economy.
“I think it’s safe to say that initiating customs inspection services will only have a positive impact on the economic impact of the airport on the community,” he said.
In addition to increasing revenues and tax coffers, having a customs inspection facility enhances the prestige of McCollum Airport. Von Hagel and his team recently exhibited at a national conference for corporate jet fleet schedulers and dispatchers who welcomed the news of another customs inspection facility away from the commuting congestion and air traffic delays of Atlanta.
“These people are always looking for places that can make their arrivals more convenient and comfortable for their passengers,” Von Hagel said.