The Ardmore Development Authority, which manages the Ardmore Municipal Airport, routinely receives bid solicitations from companies testing the waters to see if Ardmore is the right fit for their business.
Many of these companies are seeking pre-built spaces of at least 100,000 square-feet.
“A lot of what we’re getting are requests for manufacturing spaces of some type,” said Ardmore Development Authority’s Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, Andrea Anderson during the last ADA meeting in October. “They’re looking for infrastructure that is already in place, and building sizes range all over the place.”
While several of these potential airport tenants request pre-existing mega-sized spaces to move into, ADA President and CEO Mita Bates said such spaces simply aren’t feasible for the Ardmore Municipal Airport.
“The challenge is, when you talk requests for these spaces in proposals, they’re really just companies dipping a fishing pole into the pond. They’re just seeing what’s there and available.”
Even though the airport may not be able to accommodate such requests, the ADA uses them as a barometer to gauge what potential tenants may want.
“When those requests come in, it’s great that we get them, but … they really just tell us what companies are looking for,” Bates said.
A comprehensive, 26-week labor study at a cost of $65,000 the ADA approved in September will help the public trust further gauge exactly how to develop the airport to optimize labor potential moving forward. The company chosen for the study, Site Selection Group, is a location advisory and economic development firm based in Dallas with 29 global affiliate offices.
Bates said the study is meant to respond to the needs of current employers who struggle to find a qualified workforce.
“It will provide an expert’s and an outsider’s point of view,” Bates said.
The ADA believes one of the greatest assets to attract more tenants and labor is its combination of rail and air traffic.
“One of our greatest aspects is that we are intermodal,” Bates said. “You can have rail, you can have truck access, air access and that’s actually the greatest thing.”
Despite not having large buildings ready for move-in, Bates said “a lot” of land is still available at the airport. Economical labor costs she attributed to rural Oklahoma also remain a boon for development.
She added that industries like Dollar General and The Foundry complement one another, and the more tenants that come into the airport the better synergy for success is created.