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Two options under consideration would include Blacksburg in the name.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Most everybody around here knows that the New River Valley is part of the Roanoke region, right?
Maybe. But officials at Roanoke Regional Airport are thinking a clarification may make marketing and economic sense.
They’re mulling a name change for the airport. Two options under consideration are Roanoke-Blacksburg Airport and Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport, according to airport records.
A final decision to stick with the current name or change could come in the next several months.
The current name, officially Roanoke Regional Airport, Woodrum Field, is 26 years old. Previously just Woodrum Field, named for pharmacist, lawyer and Congressman Clifton A. Woodrum, the current name dates back to the creation of the Roanoke Regional Airport Commission in 1987. It’s a good name, well recognized, and is being used repeatedly in an airport marketing campaign, according to a presentation to the commission by consultant Kathy Baske Young.
Adding “Blacksburg” to the name might leave some parts of the region feeling left out, she said. In addition, a name change is unlikely to address the chief desire of customers for more flights to more places, the consultant told the commission, which is made up of representatives of Roanoke and Roanoke County.
Plus, changing the name would cost about $300,000, she said. About a third of the expense of a name change would involve notifying the government and plastering the new name on signs, advertising, ticket booking websites, employee uniforms, stationery and business cards. The remainder would go to research, advertising and public relations.
The case for name change goes like this: A change would build on the concept that the Roanoke and New River valleys have unity and alert travelers that the Roanoke and Blacksburg areas share an airport. It could open new options for branding pitches and recognize the importance of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech to its customer base, Young said. According to airport statistics, Virginia Tech is the airport’s largest corporate user, with an average of 16 passengers daily. Other frequent users based in the NRV are Radford University and Volvo Trucks North America.
Given its size and economic contribution to the region, it seems fitting for the airport to recognize the NRV in its name, said Aric Bopp, who directs the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance. He said the new name he’d prefer is the Roanoke-New River Valley Regional Airport.
There is leeway from a legal standpoint to make a switch. “In general, an airport can name themselves whatever they want,” said Rusty Harrington, planning and environmental section manager at the Virginia Department of Aviation. “It’s their airport.”
Airports change their names from time to time. Some examples include Richmond International Airport, which used to be Richard E. Byrd Field, and Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, which used to be Patrick Henry Airport.
But Roanoke’s airport must forever tack to its name Woodrum Field, by the enabling legislation that formed the commission. However, the Woodrum Field phrase, like a middle name, can be left off in everyday use, said executive director Jacque Shuck.
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