Jet charter service may relocate to Danville

DANVILLE – First National Bank of Danville plans to move its jet charter service from Arizona to the Vermilion County Airport if an enterprise zone can be extended to the property.

Vicki Haugen, president and chief executive officer of Vermilion Advantage, said Thursday night that the bank's affiliated with a charter service based in Arizona and has a proposed agreement with the Vermilion County Airport Authority to relocate here.

She said it would be a $9.75 million investment that would mean about 25 jobs, four planes, renovation of the airport's terminal and construction of one new hangar and possibly a second. Pilots would fly to international destinations.

Haugen said charter services are a growing sector, especially for executives who have little time to get where they need to be for business. Private charters can offer more flexibility than commercial airlines with fewer scheduling hassles and as many security measures.

The deal is contingent on the enterprise zone being extended to the airport, Haugen said. The zone would be extended from the former Walgreens building on Bowman Avenue, north along Bowman Avenue to the airport.

Haugen said it's not a request for property tax abatement, only a request to extend the zone, which then makes the project eligible for many state incentives like state jobs credits and state sales tax credits.

The enterprise zone also would make additional property around the airport at 22633 N. Bowman Ave. more attractive to potential developers.

Bob Gagnon, director of the Vermilion County Airport, said a lease has not yet been signed with the charter service, but the airport has "an agreement to agree."

"We're excited about the possibilities and probabilities," he said. "We're talking about a significant investment, and we're looking forward to that."

Gagnon said the airport can benefit in other ways from the expansion of the enterprise zone.

"We're excited about the development possibilities, too," said Gagnon, who added that the airport has some significant ground that Vermilion Advantage has been trying to market. "This is just another reason why people would be looking here for light industrial development."

Haugen said the Vermilion County board, city of Danville and village of Tilton all must approve the enterprise zone expansion. Haugen made her presentation to the county board's executive committee Thursday night, and the committee approved it unanimously. The request now moves the full county board for consideration at its April 10 meeting.

Haugen will seek Tilton's approval on April 12 and Danville's on April 17.

Craig Campbell, owner of First National Bank in Danville, could not be reached for comment on the charter service proposal.

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