Lyon County airstrip projects aim to serve private sector and government customers

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Aerial summer 2021 view of the former Tiger Field, now SAMSARG Field, in Fernley.
Courtesy photo


The new owner of the small Fernley Airport intends to transform the airstrip into a modern regional air center serving private and government customers.

The Growth Resources, Assets, Safety, & Stability Opportunity Zone Fund (GRASS for short), led by CEO and Chairman Don Harmer,
acquired the former Tiger Field airport of the Bureau of Land Management over the summer and is currently working on a plan to improve the airstrip and build modern hangars for public and private clients.

“We had the opportunity to acquire the old Tiger Field, which is now SAMSARG Field, as well as approximately 250 acres attached to the airport,” Harmer said in an interview in early December with the NNBW. “We saw an opportunity to acquire the airport and the surrounding areas and try to have a positive impact with an expansion of what we can do if we had our own airfield.


“Fernley is booming, but it’s still seen as an underserved area. We are focused on investing in areas of opportunity, and we are very heavily invested in the Silver Springs airport. “


To this end, the fund and its subsidiary SAMSARG Inc. are separately building a specialized 24,000 square foot hangar at Silver Springs Airport in Lyon County for Department of Defense subcontracting work, thanks to
$ 5.04 million in SAMSARG funding secured in September.
Don Harmer, President and CEO of Corporate Services of Nevada, is President and CEO of GRASS.

SAMSARG has 15 acres under lease in Silver Springs and is trying to lease additional land for a possible 40-acre campus that would have a mix of hangars to serve private and Department of Defense clients, Harmer said.

Ranger Construction has already poured a 24,000 square foot slab at the Silver Springs airport, and the steel for the hangar is expected to be erected this month, Harmer said. Earthworks for the apron and taxiway from the runway are also expected to start soon, he added.


The project also includes a one-mile extension of a municipal water line that will increase water capacity for nearby residents. The hangar has a target completion date of the end of the second quarter or third quarter of 2022, Harmer said.


Meanwhile, the development of additional infrastructure at SAMSARG Field will depend on user demand, Harmer said. Immediate improvements include widening and improving the current runway.


Ideally, he added, the hangar construction will be tailor-made for the tenants, but GRASS also plans to develop speculative hangar spaces.


“(SAMSARG Field) will need to be improved to bring it to a level that meets the expectations of the people who move in this region,” Harmer said. “But deadlines are fluid. Right now we’re making a plan and getting some superficial approvals and making sure everyone is on board with the vision.


“We are trying to integrate a short, medium and long term perspective to show what extensions are planned. And we are always trying to acquire a few more plots. But it all depends on capitalization and approvals. I think we will deliver such a great product that I hope we have a lot of allies to help us out.

Tahoe Reno Industrial General Improvement District Board Chairman Kris Thompson at a board meeting on Monday, November 4, 2019 at the Storey County Office Building in the Tahoe Industrial Center- Reno in Storey County. Photo: David Calvert / The Nevada Independent

Kris Thompson, Project Manager for Storey County’s Tahoe Reno Industrial Center and TRI II, a new 20,000 acre industrial development planned for the south side of Fernleystated that the recent acquisitions of TRI II and SAMSARG in fact share certain ownership limits.

Thompson said the extended services at SAMSARG Field and Silver Springs Airport could prove beneficial to business executives and would likely be part of marketing efforts for the new industrial park.


“It would be great to have an operational airport right next to our new project,” said Thompson. “It would be wonderful because commuter and business flights are becoming more and more popular, especially from the Bay Area due to the traffic.


“We have a long history of supporting Silver Springs Airport. The fact that they are modernizing the airport shows how Fernley is emerging as the next developmental epicenter along the I-80 corridor and northern Nevada as a whole.


Based in Carson City, GRASS is an IRS-appointed Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZF) and Qualified Small Business Stock (QSBS) fund that invests in aviation, regulatory technology, aircraft hangars and drones. This
announced in June the opening of its Reg A + round table after receiving federal approval; the minimum investment is $ 1,000.

Logo of the GRASS fund.

SAMSARG Inc. is a Lyon County-based aircraft parts, manufacture and maintenance company focused on modifying U.S. government aircraft for specialized assignments. This also secures hangar facilities that require targeted specifications for maintenance of transport and freight aircraft, including security system installation, additional maintenance and complex compliance documentation.

The company received significant tax breaks from the State of Nevada for doing business in the State of Silver.


In September, the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development approved $ 180,750 in 10-year tax breaks for SAMSARG for its Tiger Field project in Fernley. The company
will need to create 25 jobs in its first two years of operation at a weighted average wage of $ 32.88 per hour.

“The company expects its workforce to reach 147 employees in five years,” according to a press release from GOED.
“SAMSARG will invest $ 1.2 million in capital equipment during its first two years of operation and generate $ 6.1 million in tax revenue over the next decade. “

Go
here to see the SAMSARG application for September 2021 with GOED.

Meanwhile, in December 2020, GOED approved an additional $ 126,646 in tax allowances for SAMSARG for its entry into Silver Springs, in exchange for generating $ 6,417,240 in tax revenue over the next 10 years.


According to a December 2 GOED press release, the company will initially create 25 jobs at an average wage of $ 53.88 per hour for the Silver Springs project, which notes that the estimated economic impact over the next 10 years is of $ 725,722,245, which includes “180 jobs in addition to about 46 construction jobs.”


Go
here to see SAMSARG’s December 2020 application with GOED.

NNBW editor-in-chief Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.


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