Horry County Department of Airports – ITAP Taxiway Project

The completion of a taxiway connecting the International Technology & Aerospace Park (ITAP) to the Myrtle Beach International Airport runway is just the first step toward sparking the creation of a new aviation hub in South Carolina, local officials say.

“This is a win-win for everybody,” says Pat Apone, director of airports for Horry County. “We are diversifying jobs for the community as the airport continues to grow. This continues to be an excellent community-development building project.“ 

Construction work includes demolition and site grading, maintenance of traffic, drainage and erosion control installation, subgrade stabilization and aggregate and stabilized base placement. In addition, the work entails asphalt and portland cement concrete paving, pavement marking and airfield lighting and signage installation for the taxiway and ramp. Greenwall Construction Co. of Myrtle Beach was chosen as the contractor in November with an initial March completion scheduled.

The project is designed to enhance the aerospace park by making it more attractive to potential tenants because it will allow direct access to the runway. Several companies have expressed initial interest, Apone says. The park could eventually employ more than 2,500 aviation workers, officials say. The taxiway project is funded by Federal Aviation Administration grants, federal utility grants and the airport.

“The entire community has come together to make this a success,” Apone explains. “All of it has been done by the community as a whole with the county and city working together to make this a success [and] showing the importance of this for future economic development.”     

Aviation History

The airport opened in 1937 and was operated by the Myrtle Beach Town Council and named the Harrelson Municipal Airport after the town’s mayor. In 1940, the U.S Army Air Corps obtained the airbase for training and operated it until 1993. It then returned to local control with the city of Myrtle Beach and Horry County officials spearheading development of the site. 

This resulted in the 114-acre Market Common lifestyle center with shopping, townhomes, restaurants, movie theater, grocery store and schools. Roads are named for former wing commanders and small memorial signs dot the development describing the history of the air base.

The 416-acre International Technology & Aerospace Park represents the industrial side of the airport redevelopment.  

The location is ideal for a wide variety of aviation-focused industry as the space is flexible and capable of handling Group IV aircraft, says Kirk Lovell, Horry County Department of Airports director of marketing. This includes airplanes such as Boeing 737s, MD-80s, 767s and Airbus A320s. 

There has been considerable recent growth in the aviation business in this region with Boeing Co. located in Charleston and other aerospace companies in Greenville, as well. “There is good momentum for us,” Lovell says. The aviation industry is attracted to the region because of its low energy costs, reasonable cost of living and qualified workforce, Lovell says.

Regional aircraft refurbisher AvCraft Technical Services operates at the airport from a 136,000-square-foot complex of hangars, paint facilities and back shops. It supports operators of ATR 42 and 72, Bombardier Dash 8 and Dornier 328 turboprops and jets as well as other aircraft. 

Meanwhile, Horry Georgetown Technical College offers an associates degree in applied science in aviation maintenance taught at facilities at the airport. Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics also has a campus onsite offering an aviation maintenance technology program. In its 26,000-square-foot facility, there are classrooms, a computer lab, publications library and shop areas for aircraft propulsion systems, electricity, sheet metal, hydraulics, instruments and controls, composite materials, non-destructive testing, welding and painting.

Last year, aviation manufacturer Elm Street Associates announced it was relocating to Myrtle Beach, where it is building a 45,000-square-foot facility. The company designs and builds aviation products such as synthetic plywood, insulated concrete foam panels and high-insulation-value roofing tiles. It is slated to employ more than 50 people at the facility, according to the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. 

Diversified Economy

Hundreds of thousands of visitors per year flock to Myrtle Beach with its breathtaking, 60-mile Grand Strand of beaches, golfing, restaurants and amusement offerings. Although this makes it a popular destination, the economy has become heavily reliant on tourism. “We are diversifying the market here,” Apone explains. “It is a tourism industry-based community so we are looking to bring in the aerospace industry to diversify employment offerings, adding higher-paying jobs.”

During the summer, passenger traffic through the airport exceeds 105,000 passengers per month. However, during other seasons passenger air volume drops to just 30,000. Even so, Myrtle Beach International Airport welcomed more than 830,000 air passengers in 2013, an increase of 12 percent above 2012. The largest carriers serving the airport are Sprint Airlines, US Airways and Delta Air Lines. 

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