BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard)
The ‘Mac Crenshaw Memorial Airport recently was host to The Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Butler County Commission for Economic Development, and the City of Greenville combined Business After Hours and Networking Event on June 14.
There was large crowd which gathered for an evening of socializing, food and refreshments, and musical entertainment.
Pip’s Surf and Turf prepared hors d’oeuvres of fries, red snapper, steak, and shrimp while Two of Kind’s Rose and Curk provided acoustic entertainment.
The airport has been a vital economic part of Butler County.
In 1961, the Greenville Airport was completed at its current location. There were two previous airports.
The first was constructed in 1930 two miles east of Greenville. The second was constructed in 1950 seven miles west of Greenville.
Richard Calvin “Mac” Crenshaw took the job of airport manager in 1961 and served in the role until 1997 upon retirement and death.
In 1998, the airport was designated “Mac Crenshaw Memorial Airport.”
Travis Capps served as manager from 1997 until 2019. Bruce Edwards then assumed the role and is still serving in that capacity.
Edwards said, “You’d be surprised at the number of people who lived here forever don’t know there is an airport here and they would be surprised if they knew the number of people who use the airport.
“We have people come in here to go hunting, golf, and of course business related trips. From the taxes generated, it almost in a sense it pays for itself.”
Edwards also stated MCMA fuel prices make them competitive and planes will stop to refuel before flying to Florida.
He added, “A lot of people don’t understand what an airport can do. When Fred’s closed, the parent company of Roses, Variety Wholesalers from North Carolina, came and because of this airport and the welcome they got, they said we are definitely going to put Roses here.”
He added that Walmart would not have come to Greenville if there hadn’t been an airport.
Michelle Conway, a professional engineer with Goowdwn Mills Cawood and who is a project manager for transportation, noted that a study by Alabama Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Bureau indicated the total annual economic impact from MCMA was $2,019,000.
Speaking of the airport’s history, Edwards said, “Over a period of 20 years we’ve extended the runway, replaced hangers, added a taxiway and updated the terminal building.
“The runway length in 2001 was approximately 3,800 feet. The runway extension added another 1,700 feet making the total length 5,500 feet.
“Eighteen years ago the airport took down eight hangers and with replaced them with new hangers. Those hangers are full now,” added Edwards.
He added that they expected to get federal help next year and install eight more hangers.
Two years ago the inside of the terminal including was updated with new flooring, paint and furniture. They also redid the bathrooms.
According to Edwards the MCMA can handle about any private jet up to a big Gulfstream and any kind of piston plane.
In August, they are supposed to replace the taxiway by the terminal because it currently won’t carry the weight of the big jets. Edwards noted a federal grant is making the project possible.
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) announced on June 2, MCMA would receive an $800,000 to rehabilitate the taxiway.
The grant is funded by the Federal Aviation Administration and is included as part of an $11.36 million grant for 10 local airports is Alabama.
Senator Shelby said in a press release, “Alabama is open for business, and we must continue advancing our infrastructure if we want to remain prosperous. I am pleased that these airport upgrades and security enhancements will support the growth and success of many communities in Alabama.”
Greenville’s website, www.greenvilleal.gov/197/Airport, states, “The City of Greenville through partnerships with the FAA and ALDOT has developed the Mac Crenshaw Memorial Airport into a multi-functional airport capable of serving the business community and fostering economic development. The airport is also used heavily for agricultural purposes as well as for life flights from local hospitals.”
“Statewide airports have an annual economic impact of $4.9 billion while creating 44,399 jobs,” states a fact sheet from the Alabama Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Bureau.
The information can be found at https://governor.alabama.gov/assets/2021/01/Alabama-Airport-Economic-Impact-Study-Fact-Sheet-2020.pdf.