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NBAA Member Promotes Aviation Businesses in North Carolina

Sept. 1, 2014

Listen to an NBAA Flight Plan podcast on the state's new aviation-related task force.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has appointed 18 people to an Aviation Development Task Force charged with providing recommendations to the North Carolina Secretary of Transportation on how to grow the state's aviation industry, which pumps more than $25 billion into the economy, and employs more than 100,000 people statewide.

Among the task force's appointees, all of whom serve year-long terms that began in July, is the incoming chairman of the NBAA Domestic Operations Committee, W. Ashley Smith, Jr.

Smith, who said he is the only task force member who makes a living flying aircraft, is president and CEO of two companies: Jet Logistics, Inc., a FAR Part 135 carrier with aeromedical operations throughout the country; and Jet Logistics Technical Services, a maintenance and repair operation with facilities at Charlotte-Douglas Airport (CLT).

"I view this task force as my conduit to…the key decision-makers in state government," Smith said, adding he has several items he would like the task force to examine.

For example, he would like to correct what he sees as a regulatory glitch affecting his aeromedical business and others like it in North Carolina.

"We're in the aeromedical business, but we can't be a medical provider," explained Smith. "That's the way the laws are written. I want to make someone in state government aware that this [problem] exists."

But Smith said there is a much larger challenge affecting aircraft operators statewide – the disparity between how established businesses are treated, compared to those the state is trying to lure to North Carolina.

Smith said it would be easier for him to grow his existing companies, which employ more than 70 people in North Carolina, if he were able to enjoy some of the incentives offered to companies looking to relocate.

"We're not a huge, billion-dollar corporation, but the assets that work for us cost a lot. We pay taxes on those assets and we develop a lot of revenue for North Carolina," he noted. "If we grow, we benefit everybody."

In addition to economic development issues, the task force is expected to recommend how the North Carolina Division of Aviation should allocate $50 million in state capital funds for airport improvement and construction projects. The group also is expected to identify ways to attract members of the armed services to the aviation industry as they leave active military duty for careers in the civilian world.

"Having business aircraft operators directly engaged with government officials and industry leaders through groups like the Aviation Development Task Force can help elected officials make policy decisions that can benefit the business aviation community as a whole," noted Dick Doubrava, NBAA's vice president, government affairs.