REXBURG, Idaho - The airport board in the city of Rexburg recently proposed a statement to the chamber of commerce about expanding the Rexburg-Madison Airport to spur economic growth in the Upper Valley.
"We're trying to do as a city and a county anything that we can do to increase jobs in the area, so that's what's driving this whole thing, really, I think," said the executive director of the Rexburg Chamber of Commerce, Donna Benfield.
Benfield added this is a discussion that's been going on for years, and expanding the airport has gained a lot of support from the city, the county and BYU-Idaho.
"What they're looking for is an extension of the runway, not to make it a big commercial airport, by no means, just to allow bigger corporate jets to land," said Benfield.
Currently, corporate jets looking to land in the Upper Valley are forced to land at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport or the Pocatello Regional Airport, because they have the longer runways the business jets need.
"Our airport board has known different corporate executives that wanted to land or wanted to consider Rexburg their home base and have had to pass that up because our airport is not large enough because our runway isn't long enough," said Benfield.
However, the proposal to expand the airport isn't as simple as lengthening the runway.
The Rexburg-Madison Airport sits in a tight spot. The single runway is almost at its limit in length. To the north of the runway are wetlands and to the south are residential neighborhoods, so expanding the runway could pose a challenge.
The chamber of commerce approved the proposal by the airport board today. The next step will be taking this discussion to Boise at the end of the month with the hope of showing the federal government there is a lot of regional and state support to expand the airport.
Benfield says expanding the airport would ultimately be a major plus for economic growth in the Upper Valley.
"When companies are trying to decide if we can locate there what are the pluses and what are the minuses. It would add a plus in our column," said Benfield.