The city of Leesburg is ramping up economic development at its airport.
A new $3.3 million seaplane ramp at Leesburg International Airport opened this week for dawn to dusk use. The ramp was built in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation and Lake County, and completion of the project from the initial concept through construction took about four years, a news release states. A grand opening ceremony is expected to be scheduled in the coming weeks.
The ramp, which is on Lake Harris, expands airport access to seaplanes for maintenance, repair, and other services provided by airport businesses, and compliments services offered at the Tavares seaplane base.
“In addition to projects that focus on safety and operational needs, the city wants to incorporate improvements that benefit the flying public,” airport manager Tracey Dean says in the release. “The seaplane ramp is another amenity that should increase operations and economic growth at the airport.”
The project creates jobs and enhances aviation services while adding more functionality to the airport. Wipaire Inc., a seaplane float manufacturer, was enticed to locate its Florida service center in Leesburg with the promise of the ramp being built. Wipaire offers float maintenance and changeovers, avionics work, and other products. The company continues to expand operations and, under the terms of a lease with the city, will add 60 full-time positions at its facility.
Leesburg International Airport is a general aviation airport with more than 50,000 flight operations per year and an annual economic impact of approximately $75.3 million. The direct impact comes from businesses located at the airport and capital projects. The indirect impact is attributed to spending by visitors who arrive in the area by aircraft. Additionally, the airport supports health, welfare, emergency, and safety-related services, the release states.