Kenai airport may be site of expansion

Anchorage-based aviation business considers peninsula for possible location

Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2003

An Anchorage-based civil aviation consulting company is considering the Kenai Municipal Airport as a location for expansion. But the airport will have to contend with the airport in Palmer, which is closer to the company's headquarters.

Aside from plans to bring basic fixed-base operator services and hangar facilities, the company intends to base a design engineering wing at its location that would pursue development of at least one government contract.

Last week, representatives from Triverus LLC took a tour of the central Kenai Peninsula to determine if the area was a good fit for their company and their families. The company offers engineering and document preparation services for a wide range of engineering projects and works with customers needing oversight on alteration projects help with FAA certification paperwork.

"We're trying to create an aviation business center," said Hans Vogel, the company vice president for research and development. "What we don't have the capability to do is set that up in Anchorage, because we don't have airport space."

Vogel said because Alaska's largest city didn't provide for the type of growth his company wanted, the firm initially considered moving to the Palmer Municipal Airport to set up a location that would offer hangar rental space, bathroom facilities, vending areas and an area for flight planning.

The space would put them within reach of a viable market for Triverus' services and provide a space where the firm's think tank could develop aviation-specific engineering innovations.

Jack Brown, the Kenai Penin-sula Borough director of economic development, got wind of the company's needs and invited them to visit the peninsula.

"What's appealing is that they're going to provide a high-end service and product," Brown said.

Vogel said the company recently won a bid to develop a motorized deck cleaner for U.S. Navy aircraft carriers that could eventually translate to some form of commercial application. He said the engineers would continue design work on this project and others like it, while operating their facility.

"We want to get into a place where we can develop the civil air sector and develop our value-added product," he said.

Engineering vice president Jamison Peters said the company planned to build and move into a 10,000- to 15,000-square-foot facility by June or July and expected to pay around $280,000 for construction. He said the possibilities for growth and jobs are good.

"In the next two years, the company could add five more jobs" Peters said. "If the vehicle goes into production, it could be 15 to 20 jobs."

Vogel added that if other products the company is designing come through, there could be even more jobs.

"We want to grow our business as the community grows," he said.

Brown took Vogel and Peters to visit Kenai Mayor John Williams and borough Mayor Dale Bagley, showed them area schools and ushered them around to residential and retail sectors of the central peninsula. The two also met with Kenai Airport Manager Rebecca Cronk-hite.

"Having facilities capable of providing hangar space and other amenities to the local flying public would increase the viability of our airport," she said.

Peters said he was impressed with what he saw in his tour.

"The (peninsula) has a good attitude toward community development," Peters said.

Vogel voiced his content with the area, as well.

"I saw a lot of cooperation between the government and industry," he said.

But there is a catch.

Vogel and Peters said they would make a decision between Palmer and Kenai by the end of the month. Vogel said because their families are young, they would be willing to move, but he hinted that Palmer's proximity to Anchorage may give it an advantage over the peninsula when it came time for family decisions.

"One honest factor," he said. "We're based in Anchorage, and it is closer to what we know. But we're in Alaska because of its quality of life. Quality of life is what will be most important to us."

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