A lot of money is being pumped into Jefferson County for a variety of infrastructure projects.
And it comes at a time when many communities are financially struggling.
The county commissioners and the airport authority have been working on a project to extend and widen the runway at the county airport. The price tag is expected to be around $2 million, and the work will result in larger corporate jets being able to land and take off. The county was able to secure $1.5 million in grants from the state. The county will retire a bond for other improvements at the airport and use that money to fund its share of the project without an additional outlay.
The commissioners and Progress Alliance are working to secure about $600,000 in state grants to extend the road at the county's industrial park.
Ed Looman, Progress Alliance executive director, said the project will cost about $675,000, and will open up another 25 acres for development at the industrial park. He added two companies are already interested in locating at the industrial park if the road is extended.
The commissioners Thursday opened bids for a $4.3 million project to build a new pumping station and install about 4,000 feet of 10-inch water lines from the pump station to the water tower in New Alexandria.
The current pump station was intended to serve 450 customers, but now provides water to 1,200 customers.
That's almost $7 million in capital improvements, all of which the county can afford to make thanks to grants and low-interest loans.
The airport runway being lengthened and widened will put the facility at the top of the list of regional airports.
Pilots will begin using the facility and passengers will see what the county has to offer. Hopefully it will lead to businesses deciding to locate here, especially those companies in the oil and gas industry.
Executives and professionals and parts for the oil and gas rigs will be flown into the county.
Pilots tend to make the final decision on where a plane should land.
The new airport terminal has amenities pilots enjoy that aren't available at other regional airports. Pilots also may decide to land in Jefferson County instead of flying into more crowded and expensive airports around Pittsburgh. It is only a short drive to Pittsburgh on U.S. Route 22.
The state needs to look favorably on the county in isuing $600,000 in grants to extend the road at the county's industrial park.
Existing businesses at the industrial park provide an economic diversity the area certainly needs. The county has learned that having all of its jobs in one or two businesses isn't the way to go into the future.
The water improvement project in the south end of the county may not lead to job creation but it goes a long way as far as quality of life for residents.
Jefferson County is moving forward with projects at a time when other counties are stagnant.