A Colorado woman's proposal to build a 10,000-square-foot private jet hangar at Del Norte County Airport is just the boost that facility needs.

The county Planning Commission has planned a hearing about the proposal for Wednesday. The airport would lease land to Pat Stryker, the 512th wealthiest woman in the world, according to Forbes magazine. Owner of a controlling share of Stryker Medical Supply Co., she boasts two homes in the Crescent City area and wants to fly her Gulfstream IV corporate jet here when visiting.

There's plenty of land for a new hangar, and its location won't interfere with runway expansion or improvements. There are some infrastructure issues, such as moving a fire hydrant, but those costs can be born by Stryker as part of the hangar's construction. Nor would there be any negative environmental effects from the hangar or by allowing a private jet to land every once in a while.

There also is the benefit of generating some nominal revenue for local governments. A hangar could generate for the county $3,000-$4,000 annually in taxes and for the airport $1,000 annually in lease fees, in addition to 10 cents for every gallon of fuel Stryker's jet fills up with

But the hangar's real benefit is getting business people and others to our community. Presumably Stryker - or anyone else who wants a private hangar - would bring business associates here. Once those with capital to invest see our area's natural beauty and economic potential, more money and jobs could will flow into our community. One thing is for certain: There won't be investment if no one visits.

Airports ought to play a strong role in supporting and developing a community's economy. Private hangers on land leased by businesses and wealthy tourists is a strategy many airports across the nation use to help accomplish that mission. At the moment, our airport primarily achieves that by offering a couple of small passenger flights a day to neighboring cities. That is impressive indeed for a community of our size, but we can do better.

A private hangar for corporate jets - whether used by Stryker or someone else - is a logical step toward increasing the role our airport plays in further supporting and fostering economic development.



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