In The News


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PLATTSBURGH | Like an aircraft emerging from a misty fog onto a runway, business at Plattsburgh International Airport (PBG) is coming clearly into focus. The addition of Breeze Airways with its first flights to Orlando and Tampa, FL, in February, has added commercial traffic to the terminal.

But a hub of activity a mile down the flightline renews the airport's sense of place for industry.

On a spring-like, rainy day in December, a drive around the airport property reveals the scope of how big the PBG Airport Industrial Park is; and how redevelopment is steadily moving forward to reuse buildings shuttered here nearly three decades ago.

Clinton County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Molly Ryan said expansion at the Airport Industrial Park is well underway.

"The airport is so much more than commercial air service. It is home to many up-and-coming companies spurring growth in the North Country," she said in an interview.

"There are businesses like Smardt Chillers Inc., specializing in industrial air conditioning systems that are oil free. Vapor Stone Rail Systems is a company that manufactures passenger doors and passenger door systems for different companies all over the world.

"You've got some relatively large employers right there at this important hub at the airport. We've been able to make use of those buildings that were once part of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base. It's a hidden gem. And it generates about $1 million for the county in rent every year."

BETA Technologies is also growing in the industrial park. The Burlington-based company just announced a $41 million expansion with support from New York State. The aeronautical design company pland to renovate their current space and add a new building, bringing 85 jobs, aircraft painting, electric aircraft flight testing and delivery to its site here.

PBG Director Christopher Kreig said some of the industry that landed on the former base is aircraft and flight related, but not all.

"The business park is part of airport operations," he said. "We work with companies to help make the right fit. Quite a lot has happened since the airport was built in 2007."

It's been a process over 16 years, he said, removing some structures, retrofitting hangers with military-grade sliding doors across the front of the entire building.

In one renovated set of hangars, Grand Canyon Scenic Air operates a cargo service for UPS. Another thousand feet down the line, another row of hangars is about to undergo similar restoration.

The county is working to reuse all of the airport, Kreig said.

"Commercial air service is part of what we do here. Clinton County and the IDA have been successful in attracting businesses to the buildings that have been renovated. It's great to see we continue to draw interest from both the business sector and the airlines."

The concept for an Airport Industrial Park was developed when the base closed, Ryan said. Vapor Stone Rail was one of the first companies to locate here in 1998, just after Clinton County took ownership of the airport and property along the western side of Arizona Avenue. They've expanded in the years since.

County and state lawmakers and business leaders have been able to infuse new life and purpose into hangars, machine shops and flat cement buildings that once housed operations centers for bomber squadrons.

Redevelopment has grown lot-by-lot. There are some buildings yet to be torn down to make room for new construction, Kreig said.

"There are very few units that we have left," Ryan said. "A few buildings still need to be rehabilitated and we're looking for funding sources to achieve that."

It's been a steady and planning intensive process. County agencies work with federal oversight via the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), military redevelopment sources and counterparts in New York State, including the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Empire State Development (ESD).

Clinton County's success in finding reuse for the property is unparalleled, according to military reports.

By 2022, EPA reported that the reclaimed airport had 54 on-site businesses that "employed 673 people and generated an estimated $84,194,552 in annual sales revenue."

Additionally, local businesses rent some properties for storage and maintenance, which brings use at the industrial park closer to 80 occupants.

Looking forward to the coming year, Ryan said the airport and its industrial business sector is clearly on a very bright path.

"We're very confident in the sustainability and growth in the businesses here, and that opportunity in area is only going to continue to expand."