PTI Airport the Focus of Triad Today Special

FedEx plane taking off over the sign at Piedmont Triad Airport

FedEx plane taking off over the sign at Piedmont Triad Airport
This weekend’s edition of Triad Today focuses on the economic impact that Piedmont Triad International Airport has on our region. Special guests will include: Kevin Baker, Executive Director of PTI; Stan Kelly, President and CEO of Piedmont Triad Partnership; Thomas Maxwell, Southeast Managing Director of FedEx; and Nick Yale, Director of Aviation Programs at Guilford Technical Community College. What follows are highlights from our discussion.


Jim: Why is PTI different from other airports?

Kevin: Most airports you think of as a place of transportation and we certainly have that component. We’re the third largest airport in the state in terms of passengers. But we have a second mission, which is to be a center of employment as well as a center of transportation. There are 6,000 people employed at the airport, and that’s not including service providers and others. Estimates are that there are 12,000 people who are indirectly employed as a result of the airport. The beauty of these jobs is that the average household income within 40 miles of the airport is $45,000, and that could be two earners. The average income for an employee on the airport is between $60,000 and $65,000, so then you have one earner making almost 150% of the average household income in the area. The message is that these are very good jobs.

Jim: Stan I’ve been hearing about the “Carolina Core” initiative. What is it? And, how does PTI figure into it?

Stan: Carolina Core is a vision, it’s a brand, and it’s a strategy. Over the next twenty years our aspiration is to grow at least 50,000 net new jobs across this region. Relative to the brand, the name “Carolina Core” more readily identifies us as to our geographic location. As to strategy, there’s a million additional residents who will move to North Carolina in the next 20 years, and we want to take advantage of that.

Jim: How much land is available around PTI for development?

Stan: There’s a thousand acres, so we can entertain opportunities of 20 acres, 200 acres, 800 acres, or someone can take it all.

Jim: Tom, you employ about a thousand people in this community. Why did FedEx select PTI for its Mid Atlantic hub to begin with?

Tom: There were a number of factors that influenced our decision. For one thing, the infrastructure makes it very friendly for surface transportation. We have good access to the highways and the road system. It’s also close to a major aircraft maintenance facility, and we have ideal runways. There’s also additional land available as an option for expansion, and there’s a ready workforce here along with a variety of educational opportunities.

Jim: Nick, speaking of a trained labor pool, how do you work with PTI to help grow the workforce?

Nick: When Kevin is out trying to recruit companies to come here, he can bring them over to GTCC, and we can show them how we generate custom programs to fit their needs. And if we don’t have what they need, we’ll go to their work environment and figure out what their key learning outcomes are for employees coming in the door, then we develop a program around that, and have it ready before they get here.

Kevin: I describe GTCC as the crown jewel whenever we’re out meeting with tenants. The folks being trained at GTCC are feeding right into these businesses who need those employees so badly. Without that workforce development, the companies can’t survive.


This special episode of Triad Today will air Saturday December 21st at 7:30am on abc45, and Sunday at 11am on MY48.


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