KISSIMMEE AIRPORT KICKS OFF 80th ANNIVERSARY
Airport continues to drive the regional economy with an annual economic impact of over $190 million dollars.
Kissimmee Gateway Airport announced the kickoff of its 80th Anniversary celebration, showcasing the key role the airport has played in transforming aviation and aerospace in the Central Florida region over the last eight decades. “This is an amazing milestone for us,” said Shaun Germolus, airport aviation director. “What started as an Army airfield in 1940 is now a thriving general aviation airport and a valuable asset to the region.”
The airport got its start when the Air Force requested an airfield for pilot training prior to World War II. Today the airport is home to a historic warbird museum, premier Fixed-Based Operators (FBO), and companies on the cutting edge in the aerospace and aeronautical industries. According to Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development organization, Florida is a leading aerospace location and a top state for aerospace manufacturing. Over 470 aerospace companies are in the state serving the needs of sectors from aircraft parts and assembly, to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and missiles.
Enterprise Florida reports that nearly 100,000 Floridians work in Florida’s aviation and aerospace industries with large numbers of rocket scientists, machinists, pilots, engineers, and other flexible, highly-skilled workers.
“It’s exciting to see how much the airport has grown over the last 80 years, particularly when it comes to serving the aerospace industry,” said Belinda Kirkegard, the City of Kissimmee’s Director of Economic Development. “Our City Commission recently rezoned over 160 acres of previous airport passive land to an airport industrial designation, which can easily accommodate relocating businesses of any size, which is complemented by the innovative Aerospace Advancement Initiative. This aggressive economic incentive program was designed to spur investments at the airport.”
The airport plays a key role in the region’s tourism industry. According to Experience Kissimmee, over 8.6 million people visit the area each year resulting in an annual economic impact of $6.6 billion.
“Tourism is the largest industry in Osceola County and Kissimmee Airport is a vital part of it,” said DT Minich, president, and CEO of Experience Kissimmee. “The airport provides business and leisure travelers a direct connection to Kissimmee and we are thrilled to join the community in celebrating this amazing milestone.”
The airport also plays a critical role in the community’s safety. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit, the Osceola County Helicopter Ambulance Base, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife are all located at the airport.
“Kissimmee Gateway Airport has been serving residents, businesses, and tourist for over 80 years, and I’m excited to see what the future hold as the City continues to grow the airport, welcome new jobs, and foster aerospace industries. With the City’s aerospace economic incentives program launched in 2018, we have continued growing the aviation industry thanks to the airport’s strategic location that attracts high-tech companies,” said Mayor Jose Alvarez.
The 80th Anniversary celebration will continue through 2020. The public can take part in exciting planned events like a virtual exhibition of the airport’s rich history, hosted by the Osceola Historical Society, or take flight in a historic World War II aircraft like a P-51 Mustang at the airport’s warbird museum.