RENSSELAER — New projects are taking shape at the Jasper County Airport.

Airport manager Ray Seif provided members of the Greater Rensselaer Chamber of Commerce and city officials, including Mayor Steve Wood, with updates during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday afternoon at the airport.

The ceremony gave Seif and his staff a chance to show off their new rental and training aircraft, a 1975 four-seat, single-engine 1975 Cessna 172. The Cessna model is popular with many airports who have rental operations, Seif said.

Seif said adding a flight training and rental operation for the public has been a goal. With an operation now in place, the airport has been receiving inquiries from people as far away as Lafayette and Merrillville.

“We’re offering an introductory rental rate of $115 per hour, which is currently the lowest rate in the state,” Seif said. “We’ll keep that rate available as long as we can. When the introductory rate is done, we plan on giving discounts to county and city government officials, first responders …

“The more it flies, the less it costs to operate.”

The rental rate is a “wet” rate and includes gas. The rate does not include the cost of an instructor when used for training purposes, Seif said.

“Instructors ask between $30-$60 an hour,” he said.

Seif also informed chamber members that the airport would like to add another 1,000 feet to its runway. Currently 4,000 feet long, adding another 1,000 feet would mean more traffic at the facility.

“It would allow large corporations with bigger aircraft to come here,” he said.

The airport does stay busy because it offers the best fuel prices in the region, Seif added.

“With our fuel prices and a larger runway,” he said, “we’re trying to get more people to visit the community.”

Also in the works is a new hangar that will rest north of the current hangar to the west and a second maintenance shop.

“A new hangar will be our project for 2020,” Seif said. “We’re in the engineering process right now.”