Garfield County seeks ways to attract business to the Rifle Airpark
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Garfield County is nearing the end of a three-year process to determine what type of businesses or industries would be a good fit for the land surrounding the county airport near Rifle.
Known as the Rifle Airpark, the roughly 1,300-acre property surrounds much of the airport, and more than 600 acres of the area is due to be annexed into the city of Rifle.
According to airport manager Brian Condie, the process of identifying and attracting industrial and commercial businesses to the Airpark began in 2008.
The county was considering its options in terms of economic development with the airport as a hub, Condie recalled, and began seeking ways to market the airport.
One outcome of that effort, Condie said, was the annual Rifle Air Show. The Air Show, at least in part, is used as a venue for highlighting the airport’s facilities to any and all prospective tenants.
More recently, Condie said, the county has hired a Canadian company, Explorer Solutions, to conduct “focus group” meetings of business, aviation and government leaders in the county, to see what they feel would be a good fit for industrial or commercial concerns at the Airpark.
The contract, which is envisioned as the first of three phases, is to pay the consultants just over $29,000 to come up with a list of “options” for the Board of County Commissioners to consider as they work on an economic development plan for the Airpark.
“We hope to have this all done by the time the airport reopens in November,” Condie said, referring to the report from Explorer Solutions.
After that, he said, it will be up to the commissioners to decide whether to rehire the Canadian firm to help the county hunt for businesses that might want to located facilities at the Rifle Airpark, which is owned by a group known as Airport Land Partners.
The commissioners also could look for another firm to conduct a search for prospective businesses, or simply embark on a marketing campaign of their own.
“This is still a two or three-year process that we’re looking at,” Condie predicted, explaining that because it is west of the Continental Divide and in the mountains, the Rifle facility is “kind of unique” when compared to other, less remotely located and more easily accessed airports.
Condie also noted that some options, such as a flight school for international student pilots that Explorer Solutions recently found for an airport in rural Arizona, would not work well for Rifle.
The commissioners will meet with Explorer Solutions representatives on March 24, at a work session scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in the commissioners chambers at 108 Eighth St. in Glenwood Springs.
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