JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (Dec. 8, 2022) – The Johnstown-Cambria County Airport Authority and Cambrian Hills Development Group jointly announced plans to develop the Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park – a nearly 130-acre expansion to the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport (JST). Included in the expansion are plans for a state-of-the-art, 100,000-square-foot maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility, significantly increasing airport capabilities, and ultimately providing a regional destination for routine repair, service and inspection for corporate aircraft.
The Opportunity Park is slated to open fall 2024 and is expected to bring hundreds of new jobs to the area, making Johnstown one of the premier multimodal destinations in the northeast United States.
“Over the past seven years, various partners representing a variety of interests came to the table and made today a reality,” said Rick McQuaide, chairman of the Johnston-Cambria County Airport Authority.
Pennsylvania State Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson said “aviation has always been at the heart and soul of Johnstown and its roots, and we’re proud to now be able to expand on that legacy with The Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park. This will solidify the Greater Johnstown area’s role as a prime destination in the aviation sector and will prove to be a long-term economic driver for the community,”
The partnership includes the office of Governor Tom Wolf, area state legislators Senator Wayne Langerholc and Representative Jim Rigby, Cambria County commissioners Thomas Chernisky, Scott Hunt and William Smith, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Saint Francis University (SFU), and SkyWest Airlines.
The Governor, Sen. Langerholc, Rep. Rigby and the Cambria County commissioners played key roles in the property obtaining a Keystone Opportunity Zone designation, which grants state and local tax abatements that allow economic growth to stranded asset in exchange for capital expenditure and employment commitments.
“This is a potential game-changer, not only for the airport, but also for the entire region,” said chair of the Senate Transportation Committee Sen. Langerholc. “An expansion of this magnitude would undoubtedly increase Johnstown’s profile in the aviation space.”
“The Opportunity Park is the perfect example of Cambria County’s collaborative spirit. Business, academia and government coming together to recognize that we have the industry expertise and favorable geography to provide a much-needed service,” added Rigby.
MRO facilities and technicians help keep airplanes running safely and reliably through aircraft ground support equipment. Work done at the facility will range from routine aircraft maintenance and repair of instruments and controls to complete overhaul. With direct runway access through neighboring JST, the MRO will be located less than 500 nautical miles from some of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, including Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.
“The MRO facility has the real potential to be a magnet for job creation and economic activity that will resonate for generations,” said Airport Manager Cory Cree. “MROs around the country have brought jobs and economic opportunity, and we have long believed our airport is an ideal location for an MRO operator.”
Cambrian Hills Development Group President Larry Nulton, Ph.D., stated developing a pipeline of highly trained talent will also be essential. He called the partnership between Saint Francis and SkyWest Airlines “a great advantage” as the partners work to attract industry tenants to JST and The Opportunity Park.
Saint Francis University’s Aviation Program and Nulton Aviation Flight Academy are elite partners with SkyWest Airlines, giving students access to SkyWest’s Pilot Pathway Program. The SkyWest Pilot Pathway Program is designed to help meet the growing demand for pilots across the aviation industry. Those who join the pathway are eligible to receive tuition reimbursement of up to $17,500 from SkyWest as they achieve certain program milestones and they will also be eligible to receive a guaranteed interview to join SkyWest’s team of aviation professionals.
SFU was also awarded a $1 million grant by the Appalachian Regional Commission in October to launch an Aviation Maintenance Technician School, further adding to the potential talent pipeline for The Opportunity Park.
“The opportunity opened to students through our partnership with SkyWest is a true game-changer and gives students a clear pathway into the world of aviation from our programs,” explained Brother Marius Strom, T.O.R., who is the aviation program lead at SFU. “Our partnership with SkyWest gives [students] the chance to hit the ground running.”
Pennsylvania is also home to numerous aviation mechanic training institutions, such as the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics and Pennsylvania College of Technology, making this an ideal location to welcome aviation and logistics-oriented companies. “The potential is endless,” said Nulton.
“The Opportunity Park would not have been possible without the support of the Cambria County commissioners, Governor Tom Wolf and many other state leaders. They saw from the beginning what a development like this could bring to our region and what it will mean for our economy. We’re proud to be involved in such a strategic partnership,” said Nulton.
“Created as a center for business and commerce across the mid-Atlantic region, The Opportunity Park will bring about new potential not only for aviation interests, but also a region of more than 42 million people who seek multimodal opportunities to meet their needs from a community with a growing economy, talented workforce, low cost of living and a quality public school system,” Nulton added.
“We anticipate breaking ground on The Opportunity Park in spring 2023 and look forward to the positive economic impact it will bring to the community for years to come,” added Nulton.
For more information about the Mid-Atlantic Opportunity Park, please visit www.theopportunitypark.com.
About John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport
The primary airport of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport has two runways, 7,003 feet by 150 feet and 4,387 feet by 100 feet, respectively. SkyWest Airlines and United Airlines offers daily nonstop roundtrip jet service to Chicago O-Hare International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. The airport also has a full-service fixed-base operator, rental car company and a food catering business.
About Saint Francis University
Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, is the oldest Catholic-Franciscan college in the United States. Founded in 1847 by six Franciscan brothers, the institution celebrates 175 years of rich educational and religious tradition. Its mission is to help students grow into compassionate, successful professionals through a culture of generosity, respect, discovery and joy. Saint Francis University serves students online and on-ground by delivering high-demand academic offerings from undergraduate to doctorate levels. Learn more at francis.edu.