Atlantic County was awarded a $100,000 state grant to help create its planned aviation and technical academy at the Atlantic City International Airport.
The grant was awarded by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority through its Innovation Planning Challenge and is the second grant the county has received from the state in recent months.
Last month, the Atlantic County Economic Alliance, or ACEA, was awarded $120,000 to conduct a report that will lay out a full aviation strategy for the Atlantic City airport and the Federal Aviation Administration’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township.
“This is yet another positive step in the development of an aviation industry that will serve to diversify our regional economy,” Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said in a statement. “These efforts directly correlate with Governor (Phil) Murphy’s focus on bringing innovation and technology jobs to New Jersey and his interest in the state reclaiming its prominence as a global leader in innovation.”
Last October, Atlantic County announced it is partnering with Atlantic Cape Community College to create an aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul training institute at the airport that will train students to fix planes for small and major airlines around the country.
Levinson said there is also a possibility of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which has campuses in Florida, Arizona, Asia, and online, joining the effort to create the academy. Those talks are preliminary.
There is no official timetable for the completion of the academy.
The program and curriculum are being developed and will include an FAA certification for students.
Graduates of the maintenance academy can then theoretically work for the planned aviation maintenance and repair operation or the air cargo operation, both of which will also be located at the airport.
Lauren Moore, executive director of the ACEA, said in a recent interview that the training students receive can also be transferrable to other industries already in the county, such as wind energy, locomotive equipment repair and amusement ride repair.
“Our vision has grown beyond the development of the National Aviation Research and Technology Park to the creation of an aviation and technology industry triangle that encompasses the Atlantic County aviation district, the Joint Base McGuire-Dix airbase and the Cape May County Airport and Tech Village,” Moore said in a statement. “
This grant is separate from the aviation bill that was conditionally vetoed by Gov. Phil Murphy last month. Lawmakers can still re-file that bill with Murphy’s desired changes, but it again would have to pass the full state Legislature.