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Independent authority ultimately needed for airport

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Roswell’s city council has taken a welcome step of creating and appointing an Airport Advisory Commission. Having greater opportunities for public input, both from citizens and businesses, will benefit one of Roswell’s best assets.

The council also must ensure that the advisory commission works collaboratively with stakeholders towards the creation of an actual independent authority. As has been pointed out, the implementation of an independent authority will require time and resources. We are hopeful that the legislature will pass this legislation again and a new governor will sign it. The advisory commission should begin working now with the appointed authority task force so that the transition is done in a timely manner and with the best possible framework for success.

The reasons for ultimately moving to an authority over a commission are clear. An authority creates stability, without periodic changes in political leadership. Growth at the air center will not happen quickly, and long-term planning is critical to success. Second, the authority will have a board and staff that is focused on the air center and on the creation of jobs. The city serves many functions — the air center cannot receive its full attention. It also will remove political pressures from the air center. The relationship between tenants and the air center will be based on market fundamentals, not political rationales.

Small changes to the status quo will not bring the jobs we need. In 50 years, the air center has not reached its potential, and not for a lack of excellent leaders. What is required for success is a modern structure that is focused on developing our air center as a hub for job creation.

It is time for Roswell to be bold and to develop solutions to create more jobs in our community. Independent authorities have been implemented successfully elsewhere. Roswell is just as capable of rising to the challenges an authority would face. The work will not be easy or quick, but our community is ready. The advisory commission should support this work in advance of the creation of an authority.

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Kyle A. Armstrong
Roswell

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