Butler Tech asks Middletown for $2 million for educational hangar at airport

Superintendent says hangar could provide local companies needed skilled workforce.

MIDDLETOWN — Jon Graft, superintendent of Butler Tech, made a recent sales pitch to City Council in hopes of landing a $2 million commitment of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds from the city to build a $13 million aviation education hangar at Middletown Regional Airport.

The proposal is for a 25,000-square-foot facility that includes a 10,000-square-foot hangar large enough for classes, labs and community space, according to Graft.

He said Middletown, since it’s centrally located near Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky and Dayton airports and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is the ideal location for the hangar that would be used to teach local students aviation skills that could lead to high-paying careers.

The location makes “good economic sense,” Graft told City Council members.

Butler Tech began an aviation exploration program in August 2019 at Middletown Regional Airport. There are 25 juniors and 25 seniors in the program that has two main focus areas: flying and aviation and airplane maintenance.

The expanded aviation program has the potential to attract 200 more students to Butler Tech, though not all would be from Middletown, Graft said when asked by council. Butler Tech has 18,000 students in seventh through 12th grade who attend five campuses in Butler and Hamilton counties, he said.

Local companies have talked extensively about needing a skilled workforce and Graft thinks an aviation hangar “could be that space” where students are taught desirable trades. He said Butler Tech is collaborating with Middletown City Schools, Miami University, Cincinnati State and Sinclair Community College.

This week, representatives from Butler Tech are meeting with aviation and business leaders to determine appropriate curriculum so the students are hirable after they complete the program.

Graft said since 1996 the city of Middletown has made numerous improvements to the airport, including rotating beacon, perimeter fencing, pilot-controlled lighting, pavement upgrades and taxiway paving program.

That means the airport is “ripe of opportunity,” according to Graft, in his seventh year at Butler Tech.

He said the airport development has the chance to serve as an “economic catalyst” by attracting students and businesses.

Council member Tal Moon said while the city needs to consider all ARPA fund requests, he’d “love to see this work out.”

City Council is scheduled to have a public work session from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 21 at Central Connections to discuss the city’s ARPA priorities.


Butler County Commissioners: $7 million

Butler Tech: $2 million

City of Middletown: $2 million

Ohio Site Investment Plan grant: $2 million

Total: $13 million


January 2023: Ohio Site Investment Plan grant due

February 2023: Ohio Site Investment Plan grant awarded

March 2023: Roadway, utilities and site preparation complete

April/May 2023: Roadway design complete/site preparation begins

August/September 2023: Construction of roadway and utilities begins

March 2024: Site ready for end user

SOURCE: Butler Tech presentation to City Council

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