The Grissom Aeroplex Takes Off
By: Nate Nickel
Grissom Air Force Base, located in Miami County, Indiana, was a large military installation once home to KC-135 air-to-air refueling and A-10 attack aircraft. As part of the federal government’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, it was announced in 1994 that Grissom Air Force Base would be realigned. This meant that all active duty operations at the base would end. Like most communities that are home to large military installations, this was not welcome news for Miami County. The base was a large source of both employment and economic activity for the area. However, the Miami County Economic Development Authority has worked hard to turn the BRAC decision for Grissom Air Force Base into an Indiana land use revitalization success story.
As part of the BRAC realignment decision, the Air Force Reserve continued to retain a portion of the base for use by an air refueling wing. The remaining airfield and base property were declared excess by the Air Force and turned over to the Grissom Redevelopment Authority (which was later merged with the Miami County Economic Development Authority in 2005) for civilian reuse and redevelopment. The former base property was renamed the “Grissom Aeroplex” and contained many strong assets to attract future development. This included over 850 acres of land, a wide array of different types of buildings, large aircraft hangars, airfield ramp space and access to the longest runway in the entire state of Indiana.
Through extensive planning and outreach efforts, the Grissom Aeroplex is now thriving. According to Rachel Daily, Director of Marketing & Business Attraction with the Miami County Economic Development Authority, sixty percent of the former base property has now been successfully redeveloped. Governor Mitch Daniels led a ceremony in 2008 which opened the runway at the Grissom Aeroplex to civil aviation use, without the need for pilots to first obtain use approval from the Air Force. Montgomery Aviation opened a fixed-base operation at the airfield, providing services to both general aviation and corporate aircraft. Ms. Daily also pointed to a recent significant investment at the Grissom Aeroplex by Dean Baldwin Aircraft Painting, which paints commercial and military aircraft. The company will soon be opening a new aircraft painting facility in a formerly vacant 120,000 square foot hangar. This project is expected to generate 200 new jobs.
The Miami County Economic Development Authority is the primary economic and community development organization for Miami County. It is a public-private partnership organization with the mission of coordinating local efforts to attract jobs and new business investment, provide assistance to existing businesses to foster growth and retention, and assist in efforts to sustain and improve the quality of life for Miami County citizens.
For more information or additional details about the Grissom Aeroplex, please see the Miami County Economic Development Authority website at http://www.miamicountyeda.com/index.php, or contact their staff at (765) 689-0159.
(Thank you to Rachel Daily of the Miami County Economic Development Authority for her helpful assistance in preparing this blog post and providing the photos).