DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - One company is now calling a DeFuniak Springs airport home and is expected to add jobs and put this small airport on the map.
ONVOI Global Services is bringing its business to north Walton County.
"We're an aviation services company. We service the United States Air Force, the United States Marine Corps, and we do everything from flight training for military sales to transient alert to aircraft, we do maintenance on some of the aircrafts," said OGS President and Founder, Darryl Centanni.
Centanni said he felt the DeFuniak Springs Municipal Airport was a good place to call home. He said it's because of its location near the highway and wide range of military bases in the Panhandle.
"We were looking to get somewhere that has an I-10 corridor because of all the defense and military bases along the Gulf Coast and most of our contracts are located along the Gulf Coast. So we wanted to get a little closer to access our customers a little bit faster," said Centanni.
Not only will this move be beneficial to Centanni's business, it will also bring more jobs and services to north Walton County.
"This means so much for our airport and the community. It brings a diversity in the scope of services that we can off as an airport. It offers flight operations that will drive future airport growth and it also just brings economic development to the community overall," said DeFuniak Springs Municipal Airport Director, Ryan Adams.
OGS is looking to bring more than 20 aviation jobs to DeFuniak Springs within the next year.
Both Adams, as well as Centanni believe it will have a significant impact on the area's economy.
"We're hoping, as we win more contracting in the area for the Department of Defense contracts, we're hoping to bring within the next two years about 20 jobs to the area. On the commercial side we're hoping to bring four or five maybe ten jobs just in the flight training sector, just on the commercial side," said Centanni.
"ONVOI Global Services relocating to the DeFuniak Springs airport means so much to the community because it doesn't only affect the operations here at the airport, but it also brings in more people to the community on a daily basis who are conducting business with ONVOI. But it's also bringing in the families of employees who, in turn, are dining at local restaurants and shopping at local stores throughout the town," Adams pointed out.
"I think it would be great for the area. I think there is a need for it. The airline industry is hiring right now and they need airline pilots," said Centanni. "As that need grows, they will need more junior pilots that need to go up into the commuter airlines and one of the things we're going to bring is VA benefits so young guys out of the military, young guys and gals out of the military, can come here and use their VA benefits and get some flight training."
"I think right now we are a small airport that's on the verge of some big things in the future. Having the flight school along with the DOD presence is definitely going to drive the operational counts that are going to help expand our runway and facilitate the growth of more facilities int he future," Adams added.
Adams said by 2020, the airport will begin construction on a new facility as well as expand the runway by 5,000 feet.
"If you're flying in general aviation to Northwest Florida and you're visiting our beaches, the DeFuniak Springs airport can provide you with every service you could get at a larger airport with an added convenience of being right here inside Walton County, straight shot down 331 to the beaches," said Adams.