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City offers LabCorp $2.2M to land $71M aviation center at Burlington-Alamance Airport

Burlington’s city council has approved $2.2 million in subsidies in order to smooth the proverbial runway for a new aviation center that the Laboratory Corporation of America plans to develop at the Burlington-Alamance Airport.

The council formally signed off on this seven-figure incentives package on Tuesday after a brief presentation about this proposed aeronautical endeavor from the Burlington-based medical testing provider.

Peter Bishop, the city’s economic developer, told the council that LabCorp intends to construct this new, 54,000-square-foot facility on roughly seven acres of land that it proposes to lease along NC 62 from the airport’s governing authority.

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“This aviation center will include an aviation hangar for aircraft storage, a maintenance facility, offices, a conference room, a parts room, and other amenities at the airport,” Bishop explained during a public hearing that preceded the council’s decision. “This project will result in an investment of real and personal property of $71 million in the city of Burlington, and this project will also create five new aviation jobs for LabCorp.”

Bishop added that this new complex will allow LabCorp to consolidate and expand its existing operations at the Burlington-Alamance Airport, which already attributes much of its air traffic to the company’s deliveries of medical samples for testing.

In order ensure that this venture maintains its current course heading, the city’s administrators have put together an incentives package in collaboration with the Alamance-Burlington Airport Authority and the Aviation Division of North Carolina’s Department of Transportation.

The city’s contribution to this largesse includes a $2 million allocation that Bishop said will enable the airport authority “to prepare a pad-ready site” for the proposed facility. The city has also agreed to waive $200,000 in permitting and utility fees. Meanwhile, Bishop said that the NCDOT’s aviation division has pledged another $1.3 million to provide ramp space and construct taxiways for the project.

Bishop insisted that the sky’s the limit when he considered the city’s potential returns on this particular investment. His optimism was later echoed by Dan Danieley, the executive director of the Alamance-Burlington Airport Authority.

“We’re talking about a 54,000 square foot facility, which is 330 feet in length – that’s as big as a football field,” Danieley recalled during Tuesday’s discussion. “That is a big facility in itself…and LabCorp’s investment is helping us leverage more FAA funds for development at the airport.”

The company’s plans also seemed to add altitude to the spirits of Burlington’s mayor Jim Butler.

“LabCorp is more to the city of Burlington than economics; it is a piece of our history,” Butler declared before he and his colleagues voted 5-to-0 in favor of the proposed incentives. “I always say…there are two things that are important: your paycheck and your pride check. And when you know that your history has that legacy to it, it makes you a little more proud when you walk around town.”

Burlington goes behind closed doors for another economic development project; commissioners possibly for the same one:

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