Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a five-part series exploring the growth and cooperation in the area between Guadalupe and Comal counties.
As growth closes the gap between New Braunfels and Seguin, it is also fueling the advancement of nearby facilities such as the New Braunfels Regional Airport — which is taking both cities to new heights.
The New Braunfels Regional airport is helping to grow New Braunfels and Seguin by serving as a port for businesspeople interested in economic development in the area. As the region’s population swells, the airport is helping to directly and indirectly supply jobs to the area, which in turn is pushing the airport to grow as well.
“At one time, New Braunfels airport was a municipal airport, but because of the increasing resources in the area it was redesignated as a regional airport,” said Robert Lee, airport director of the New Braunfels Regional Airport.
Situated in Guadalupe County, the airport sits between the two cities, east of I-35 and north of SH 46, off of FM 758. From 1940 to 1967, the airport operated as Clear Springs Air Force Base. Today, it is owned by the city of New Braunfels and provides tenants of New Braunfels and Seguin hangar space, charter services and more.
“The city of New Braunfels and the airport support the operations and infrastructure 100%,” Lee said. “The airport has direct impacts and multiplier impacts on the region, as well as total impacts.”
The airport is home to two runways and seven on-airport businesses, which offer services such as aircraft maintenance, avionics and more. An economic impact study was completed by Texas Aviation on the airport.
Directly, the airport has supplied 59 jobs, and put out $11.4 million dollars into the local economy. Through capital improvements, it’s supplied three jobs and $473,000 in output, and through visitor impacts it’s supplied 51 jobs and $3 million in output, according to the study.
Through the recirculation of impacts in the area, the airport has supplied 127 jobs in the region, and put out $12.1 million. The total impact of the airport regionally has been 240 jobs, $7.7 million in payroll and $27.3 million in output.
“The chamber helps promote the airport for potential businesses and for regional tourism,” Lee said.
Michael Meek, president and CEO of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, said having a regional airport is a “must have” for modern day economic development recruiting.
“Companies that are sustainable and pay higher wages look for such amenities,” Meek said. “It is a time convenience for corporate executives.”
A recent example for Seguin is a prospective company flew directly into the regional airport to come tour the city, said Josh Schneuker, economic development director of Seguin.
“It just so happens they have their own private airliner they flew in, and having the ability to utilize the regional airport made it easier for them to come out and see Seguin,” Schneuker said. “So it’s an asset for companies that have that capability — instead of taking that flight into San Antonio or Austin, it helps them shave that travel time off.”
Seguin benefits from the airport in that it has this amenity nearby that someone else funds and pays for, Meek said.
“Guadalupe County receives tax base from it since it lies in their county, not Comal,” Meek said. “Part of the airport is in the Comal ISD and part in Navarro ISD.”
The airport adds a variety of unique jobs to the region as well, such as airplane mechanics jobs and pilots jobs, Schneuker said.
“Anything we can do to provide employment opportunities to Seguin is beneficial to the region,” Schneuker said. “Having the New Braunfels airport provides something different than a lot of other jobs in the area and adds diversification to the employment in the area.”
The growth of the region is pushing the growth of the airport, and in turn the growth of the airport will drive more business to the area, Lee said.
“The New Braunfels Regional Airport provides a gateway for folks outside the area who headquarter and come from outside of the area,” Lee said.
The recently approved master plan is readying the airport for the expected growth by getting ahead with expansion plans, Lee said.
The approved plan has three planned phases set over the next 20 years, with the first phase stretching to year five, phase two to year 11 and phase three to year 20.
Phase one would largely focus on rehabilitation and maintenance of existing infrastructure, while phase two would extend the runway and phase three would involve moving the terminal and enlarging growth of the community.
The updates would be funded through a mix of federal, state and local funding mechanisms such as an airport improvement program entitlement, state grants and the New Braunfels Economic Development Corporation.
For more information about the New Braunfels Regional Airport, visit https://nbtexas.org/77/Airport.