Sitting at the northeastern edge of the sprawling Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, McKinney, Texas is not only one of the fastest developing communities in the region, it occupies a unique niche in North Texas aviation traffic. Since 1979, the Collin County Regional Airport, has served as the principle hub for corporate and business-owned flights in the North Texas Region.
Nationally Recognized Growth Center
McKinney, which is the county seat of Collin County, has a population of approximately 128,000. The community represents a vibrant business presence in the greater Metroplex and was named the fifth best place in the United States to live by CNN’s Money Magazine in July 2010. From 2000 to 2003 McKinney was listed by the Census Bureau as the fastest growing city in America, a designation the town picked up again in 2006.
Like all communities in the region, McKinney has easy access to DFW International Airport, which lies half-way between Dallas and Fort Worth. The facility ranks third in the world in operations and seventh in passenger volume. In recent years, however, the bulk of private corporate flights into North Texas has shifted away from DFW toward the Collin County Regional Airport, which caters primarily to that class of aviation.
Collin County Regional Airport
About 60 percent of the air traffic at the Collin County Regional Airport has a business purpose, with 40 percent of the activity comprised of training, private, or recreational flights. This heavy emphasis on corporate air transit has made Collin County and McKinney a strategic business gateway into the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
In a recent interview with “Star Local News,” airport director Ken Wiegand referred to the facility as a “regional concierge” for both private citizens and business figures from across the nation. “We greet business decision makers, celebrities, political leaders and families who choose to fly rather than drive to the North Dallas region,” he said.
Business-related air traffic at the facility includes travel for customer contact, project management, and deal brokering as well as the transportation of parts and components for a variety of North Texas industries. The steadily increasing degree of activity has guided a targeted program of infrastructure expansion, which has further fueled the airport’s growing regional importance.
Modern businesses are increasingly mobile, with corporate aircraft representing some of the most sophisticated traveling offices in the world. Wiegand characterized commercial passenger flights as “a terrible waste of business resources,” when corporate travelers have the option to have “complete control over [their own] air transportation.”
Regional Airport Generates Jobs, Income
The airport is also a significant source of jobs and income in Collin County, with 105 full-time employees and a direct annual payroll that is estimated at $5.6 million per year. With yearly traffic at approximately 20,000 visitors, the airport supports an additional 120 ancillary employees with an aggregate payroll of $2.5 million. The visitors themselves have a direct financial output into the region of $4 million. Total estimates suggest the airport is directly linked to 470 full-time jobs and an infusion of $65.7 million into the regional economy.
Some of these jobs are construction related since the airport has been under almost constant expansion since it opened in 1979. Currently the facility covers 745 acres with a 7,001-foot runway that was rehabilitated in 2007 to accommodate heavier aircraft. In February 2011, a $2.5 million replacement air traffic control tower will be finished and the latest runway replacement project is slated for completion in December 2012.
Additional components of the current construction plan include a commercial grade runway, new taxi lanes to improve access to hangars, aeronautical service-based business sites, and land purchases with an eye toward more growth in the future. Wiegand said the airport is marketing hangar pad sites “that no other airport in the Dallas area can match.”
Prime Location in Proximity to Dallas
The Collin County Airport is a natural corporate aviation center based on location alone. McKinney is only 30 miles north of downtown Dallas and is, in fact, a popular bedroom community for business people commuting into the city. The town offers gorgeous tree-lined streets and an historic downtown that almost belie the competitive economic environment that is fundamental to the local vision. Unlike many growing municipalities, however, McKinney has struck the correct balance of small-town life and sustained business growth that has steadily drawn new citizens and enterprises in recent years.
That vision, coupled with an airport that has a goal to serve not just the city of McKinney and the broader Collin County area, but the regional community as a whole, creates a powerfully attractive combination. Both businesses and residents will continue to be drawn to McKinney based on these and other factors, assuring McKinney continued evolution as an important satellite of the already thriving Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.