Catherine Ross, NBC 5 Collin County Reporter
The Collin County Regional Airport's new runway could pave the way for future, allowing flights out of McKinney instead of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport of Dallas Love Field.
Airport officials say they hope the latest improvement to Collin County Regional Airport can help set the stage for commercial aviation down the road.
The project to improve the airport's facilities to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations began about two years ago.
"We needed this runway to really compete on a corporate level," McKinney Mayor Brian Loughmiller said.
By lengthening the runway and upping the amount of weight it can sustain, the airport can accommodate almost any private jet and even commercial aircraft, airport administrators said.
"I don't think we're any threat to DFW or Love Field right now, but within the next 10 years, they better keep an eye on us," airport director Ken Wiegand said.
The new 7,000-foot runway can eventually be expanded to a length of 8,500 feet.
While expanding the airport for commercial use requires significant upgrades, such as a new terminal structure, access roads and another runway, the airport decided it was more efficient to keep the future in mind, Wiegand said.
City and county leaders say the runway will help them attract companies.
"We're a very attractive place for businesses to consider either starting here or moving here," County Commissioner Matt Shaheen said.
Shaheen and Loughmiller said McKinney-based Emerson Process Management executives cited the airport upgrades as the primary reason they decided to stay in McKinney.
Emerson broke ground on a massive global headquarters project in McKinney's Gateway development earlier this week.
The county is offering a property tax abatement to corporations based in all Collin County cities if they base their aviation at the McKinney airport.
"We're going to help our neighboring cities attract business," Wiegand said.
The runway is operational, but the entire project won't be finished until late fall.