Business aviation not only enables companies of all sizes to respond quickly to their customers and be more flexible in the competitive global marketplace. The industry also supports a variety of companies that provide more than one million jobs throughout the country, contributing $219 billion annually to U.S. economic output.
One of those companies is WingSpan Business Developments LLC, the driving force behind the WingSpan Aviation Center, an ambitious new project that will bring new aircraft hangar and executive office space to Chandler Municipal Airport (CHD) near Phoenix, AZ.
“Aviation serves a vital role in American business,” the company notes on its website, adding that its facilities are especially appealing to “forward thinking businesses.”
Company CEO Jim Moore emphasized WingSpan is not only about building his own business, but also providing jobs and bringing new companies to Chandler, a community of more than 250,000 residents. While the city is home to technology and financial giants such as Intel, Microchip, GM Financial, PayPal and Wells Fargo, its aviation sector is still in its fledgling stages compared to other cities throughout the Valley of the Sun.
Following his service in the U.S. Army and working for more than 30 years in the financial services and investment fields, “I was in a position to invest in a new business,” Moore explained. “I’ve always been a road warrior, and as I looked at possible opportunities, I realized that I wasn’t really familiar with the direction of growth in my own home town. So, I started looking for the gaps where there was potential for development here in Chandler.”
Discussions with the city’s Economic Development Advisory Board soon led Moore to focus on Chandler’s aviation sector. “They pointed out there was a lot of aircraft storage available in the area, but they needed someone to come in and spawn businesses that also provided jobs,” he continued. “That resonated with me.”
It was also a natural fit for Moore, who years earlier had obtained his own private pilot license upon earning his bachelor’s degree. He went on to attain complex, high-performance and multi-engine aircraft ratings while also ascending the ranks with a large international banking operation that valued the construction and engineering expertise Moore had gained in the Army.
In addition to flying for recreation and to build his skills, Moore also emphasized the benefits that business aviation has provided throughout his career. “I can take a plane and visit three clients in the same day across Arizona, Las Vegas and Southern California,” he said, “and I really clip off a lot of time flying to a client in a mountain community like Prescott or Show Low. We’re talking a 45-minute flight compared to three hours of sitting in traffic.”
Tailoring Services to the Voice of the Customer
After consulting with close to 100 area businesses and individuals to determine their specific aviation needs, Moore broke ground earlier this year on Phase 1 of the WingSpan Aviation Center at CHD. Scheduled to begin “handing over keys” in late 2019, the initial project is comprised of four 100′ x 100′ hangars, as well as attached 100′ x 140′ two-story flex office space and a large general aviation terminal area highlighted by 22-foot-tall, floor-to-ceiling windows on the building’s north side to maximize natural light.
Moore reports Phase I is already sold out, with tenants including a high-end service provider for midsize business jets and turboprop aircraft, a training operation and an aircraft finance company. Environmental studies on Phase II, which will add another 360,000 square feet of business development space to the project, are now underway.
“My focus is on companies that will provide jobs to the area,” Moore said. “We’ve spent the time to refine our product based on feedback from our customers, and we’ve listened to those voices while applying our market knowledge and creativity to offer a stellar product. The market has responded very well to our approach.”
Although WingSpan is also looking at opportunities for similar developments beyond the Phoenix area – Moore noted interest from other cities from around the country – for now the company’s primary focus is on creating jobs and bringing new businesses to cities in the Arizona market.
“I’m extremely pleased to have a team of the best architects, engineers and construction crews, most of whom live in this city and understand firsthand the importance of driving economic growth,” Moore concluded. “We’re all very proud of what we’ve already accomplished and as I tell others, ‘just watch us grow.’”