Posted: 11:08 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013

Paulding airport to bring in commercial flights

PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. —

Channel 2 Action News has confirmed a deal is done designed to transform the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport outside Dallas into a major player. The multimillion-dollar plan promises commercial flights and hundreds of new jobs.

As the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport gears up for its annual airshow, Channel 2's Aaron Diamant found Propeller Investment CEO Brett Smith's sights set a whole lot higher.

Smith told Diamant that Paulding County leaders approached him soon after his plan to privatize and expand Gwinnett County's Briscoe Field got shot down last year, so last November he very quietly signed a 40-year lease with the Paulding County Airport Authority for the entire underused terminal building and a lot of the surrounding land.

"This county wanted it," Smith told Diamant.

"How did you keep this under the radar for as long as you did?" Diamant asked.

"I just kept my mouth shut. Loose lips sink ships," Smith said.

Smith said he's already in talks with several airlines to start commercial service and is working on proposals to convince big time aerospace and aviation companies to set up shop and create hundreds of high paying jobs.

"Like a Boeing or an Airbus or a Bombardier or a Garmin, those types of things," Smith said.

For now, Smith will pay about $250,000 a year in rent. Plus the county gets a cut of propeller's revenue and can pull the plug after just five years if Smith falls short.

"I do feel those goals are realistic," airport manager Blake Swafford said.

Swafford said either way, the county can't lose.

"There are going to be some people who just simply aren't going to like it simply because they don't like it, and for those folks, there's not a whole lot we can do," Swafford said.

"Now we have to put our money where our mouth is and bring business here," said Smith.

The one certainty is that the deal will no doubt catch a lot of people by surprise.

Meantime, Smith remained emphatic that he'll be measuring success in the number of jobs it brings.

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