Henry County, GA - Home Henry County Board of Commissioners | Henry County, Georgia

Henry County, GA

Contact henry County Government
Henry County
140 Henry Parkway
McDonough, GA  30253
(770) 288-6270

Michael Toney
474 Speedway Blvd.
Hampton, GA  30228
(770) 288-7834
Fax: (770) 288-7828

Driving Directions


Henry County Now Owns an Airport

One month after Henry County inked a contract to purchase Tara Field from Clayton County, the Commission Chairmen from the two counties sat down together to sign the closing contracts Friday evening, August 19, 2011.

“I came onto the Board in 2005 and negotiations were underway for the acquisition of this airport since 2003 or 2004,” noted Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth ‘B.J.’ Mathis following the signing ceremony.  “We have recognized for a long time how important this airfield is to Henry County, and so to be able to finally bring this deal to a close, to finally purchase  this airport to become a valuable asset to Henry County, this is truly a historic day for the county.”

After the initial announcement of Henry County’s intent to purchase Tara Field, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle applauded the Henry County Board of Commissioners for its vision in acquiring this critical component of Henry County’s transportation infrastructure, saying “A comprehensive infrastructure network, including access to airport facilities, is a critical component of any successful economic development strategy.”

With the acquisition, Henry County aims to enhance its economy by “leveling the playing field” with other communities that have already invested in enhanced aviation infrastructure.   

By 2014, Henry County plans to have completed the improvements first advocated by the FAA in its Environmental Assessment report to Clayton County in 2006.  Those recommended improvements, which will be funded almost entirely (97.5%) by GDOT and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), call for installing an instrument landing system and other improvements that will bring the facility up to the safety standards recommended for the size and type of aircrafts that are currently flying into Tara Field, enabling pilots to take off and land safely in all kinds of weather.  Planned improvements also include installing fencing around the entire perimeter of the airfield property, which will help to improve security in a post-9/11 environment.

Once these improvements are made, there is an enormous opportunity for direct economic growth within the aerospace industry in Henry County, including the creation of high-paying jobs in airframe, mechanical system and avionics repair businesses.  

According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the average aerospace worker in Georgia earns over $61,300 annually, 43% higher than the average for the state, making aviation and aerospace projects an important target industry segment for the state, which is currently ranked 8th in U.S. aerospace industry employment. 

An improved airport will also better equip Henry County to attract the growing number of corporations which require nearby airfields for their operations or executive travel.  It will also help position the airport to become the preferred choice for aviation in the region.  Consequently, the County will also benefit from increased ad valorem taxes for aircraft housed at the airport, as well as fuel sales and other aviation investments that will add to the local tax base.

This potential for economic development is why Henry County acted now, with budgets as tight as they are, to purchase the facility. 

“When times are slow, businesses may have to make hard cuts, but they must also make the capital expenditures necessary to secure their future.  And in many cases, when times are hard, that’s when you have the best opportunity to get something at a bargain,” explained District 2 Commissioner Fred Auletta, who is also VP Acquisitions at Bennett International Group, LLC. with more than 30 years of experience in growing businesses.  “It is the same for government.  We’re in stiff competition for jobs across the state, the region, nation and even globally.  The airport adds to our competitive advantage when people are looking to relocate or create a regional office.  This was an opportunity to attract business here, to create jobs, and the opportunity only existed because of the bad times.  You have to seize the opportunities when they are available.”

The recession also made the acquisition more favorable for Henry County.  Not only was the price less than it was early a decade ago, when Henry County first began looking at purchasing Tara Field, Henry County government will pay just $2.7 million of the $17.7 million price tag.  To further reduce the burden on taxpayers, the payments will spread out the payments over three budget years, with the next payment of $1 million not due until September 2012, and the last payment of $403,403 being paid in September of 2013.  To further protect taxpayers, there are provisions to unwind the deal with Clayton County if, for some reason, the FAA funding does not come as anticipated.

The balance of $15 million – or 85 percent of the purchase price – will be funded by the FAA.  The combined properties total approximately 542 acres and include the airport, taxiways and contiguous properties, plus a hangar and 217 acres of adjacent land that had been owned by the Clayton County Water Authority.  Combined, the properties have been independently appraised for more than $25 million.

Henry County is already interviewing experienced Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) and airport managers to operate the facility, which would insulate the County from all operating losses at the airport.  It expects to begin making a profit in 2014 when the improvements are complete.

Guests flying in to Tara Field for the Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway over Labor Day weekend will get a preview of the positive changes to come in a hospitality tent set up at the airport.  Henry County Commissioners will be there to greet guests and share the news about the exciting plans taking off at the airport.

“With this special hospitality event, we are letting our customers know it’s a new day at Henry County’s airport and excellent customer service, airport safety, and meeting all the aviation needs of our visitors will be the priorities to which we are totally committed,” explained Butch Sanders, Henry County Manager.

Henry County Georgia
Henry County Twitter Follow Henry County Goverment on Twitter.
Henry County RSS Feed Subscribe to Henry County Government RSS feeds.
Henry County Georgia

Last updated: Tuesday October 04 2011

Henry County, GA - Twitter

Watch Inside Henry TV14

Henry County Newsletter
Subscribe to E-Newsletter for County News, Programs and Events:

Henry County Reverse 911

Henry County Georgia Auction

Henry County, GA - Twitter

Henry County, GA - Twitter


Crime Mappings


Henry County, Georgia - Board of Commissioners - County Government