Groundbreaking Ceremony Ushers in Carbon County Aviation Campus


The groundbreaking ceremony for the Carbon County Aviation Campus was celebrated on the morning of June 5, with Jade Powell of the Southeastern Regional Development Agency (SERDA) welcoming all to the Carbon County Airport.

Commissioner Casey Hopes spoke next, explaining that this project really began back in 2018 or 2019, when Utah State University (USU) came to the county and said that they would like to grow the flight program and the overall aviation program. Between the county and the university, they were successful in developing some classroom space in the main hangar.

That first year, they believed they were being optimistic and would likely have a few students and one plane. Now, they are up to five planes and are pushing the limits on the program and super grateful for all USU has put into that.

Commissioner Hopes stated that this aviation campus is the addition to everything that they have been working on and has been a goal since first starting the flight program. Finally, funding was secured through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (GOEO).

Commissioner Hopes said that he has been a commissioner since 2012 and in all that time, the county has been trying to figure out a way to bring more to the airport. Since starting the aviation program, it has already been growing. “This is just going to expand and grow our airport,” said Commissioner Hopes.

Angie Martinez of the EDA then took time to congratulate the commissioners, local legislatures and leaders, the friends and partners at both SERDA and USU Eastern, before welcoming Kori Ann Edwards, Utah GOEO’s Managing Director.

Edwards began by sending hello’s and congratulations from Governor Spencer Cox and Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson for the exciting moment and the exciting future for Carbon County and the aviation program. Edwards explained that the aviation industry in the United States faces a critical challenge with a growing shortage of mechanics. This will impact an industry that supports over 10 million jobs and recent data indicates a widening gap, making the aviation campus greatly needed.

Stuart Clayson, who is a partner at the Utah Regional Growth Association, informed those in attendance that this campus is a project that Commissioner Hopes has been working on for a long time. It started with the classroom space, which the county figure out how to fund, and grew to the groundbreaking ceremony. Clayson marked this as a good capstone for the service given during Commissioner Hopes’s time as an elected official and said he hoped he felt accomplished in making substantial strides for the county.

Clayson thanked USU Eastern for having the vision to expand their operations and said this is a big opportunity. He wanted people to recognize that the asset of the airport exists because of the coal mines. The airport was where the executives would come in their jets to visit the mines and now, the infrastructure that was built off of the long heritage of the region is being made into a training facility for mechanics in a huge industry.

“This gives me hope that from old stories, we can create new beginnings,” said Clayson.

Those at the groundbreaking also heard from Senator David Hinkins and Representative Christine Watkins, as well as USU Dean Ken White. Awards were then presented before the ceremony commenced.

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