ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – A new year-long study says the best way to grow the burgeoning aviation industry hub at the Roswell International Air Center (RIAC) is to manage the facility in a new way.
There are already 600 aviation jobs at a variety of companies servicing large jet aircraft at RIAC. There are 300 jetliners and large cargo aircraft parked on the wide ramps of what was once Walker Air Force Base. However, it’s estimated RIAC could house as many as 800 airliners and hundreds more jobs.
The study, commissioned by the Roswell Chaves County Economic Development Corporation (RCCEDC), suggests to more rapidly help RIAC reach its potential, a non-political “Air Center Authority” should be created to guide a long-term strategy.
“To provide a stable structure,” said John Mulcahy, president of the Roswell Chaves County Economic Development Corporation.
“People who are mandated to run the airport for profit in a way that generates income for tenants, income for people that want to come here. And creates gross receipts tax for the city of Roswell.” Mulcahy said.
The study recommends that the Air Center Authority include members from the Roswell Chaves County Economic Development Corporation and Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, along with “one RIAC aviation business, one RIAC business park business, local broker, city council and county representative, and a power company representative.”
Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh says the air center has so much potential, an air center authority that focuses on it will have the best chance of success in growing it.
“Running an airport is a different skill set than running a city as a whole…It requires a degree of familiarity with how aviation works,” Kintigh said. “What we have here is a resource that does not exist elsewhere in the state.”
To diversify the local economy, often hit hard by the vacillations of the other major economic contributors, the petroleum and dairy industries, Mulcahy says there needs to be a targeted effort at attracting more of the world’s expanding aviation service industry.
“This is a more stable and defined curve,” he said. “It’s going to double in the next five years. So, we just need to be standing ready with a facility like this in an environment where we have very little or no taxation and encourage those people to invest in Roswell.”
The proposed air center authority would seek to attract new investments from the aviation industry.
“This could be a real aviation hub for the entire industry,” said the mayor. “Everything here from flight testing to flight training to maintenance, repair, overhaul. I’d love even to see manufacturing here.”
A task force will now look over the study recommendations and prepare to take the ideas before the city council as soon as possible.