Airport credited as major 'economic driver' for Franklin County's booming population growth

Elaina Athans Image
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
Franklin County working to foster population boom
Franklin County's population is growing and county leaders point to Triangle North Executive Airport as the economic driver for much of that growth.

LOUISBURG, N.C. (WTVD) -- Franklin County's population is growing and county leaders point to Triangle North Executive Airport as the economic driver for much of that growth.

The airport has a current economic impact of $28 million a year. But that stands to continue to grow as few improvements are on tap to help the airport meet increasing demand, particularly for corporate travel.

"We are seeing that growth exponentially growing year over year," said Triangle North Executive airport Director Bo Carson. "COVID provided a little bit of a lull for about three months here, and then ever since that it has picked up tremendously."

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The airport recently received $26 million in grant money to relocate some nearby roads and expand the runway to serve more customers.

"It's going to allow us to bring in larger planes, larger planes that can take on more people (and) take on more fuel," said Carson. "A larger aircraft to go from here to California and if they have the capabilities to get over to Europe."

Another sector in Franklin County seeing a big boom is the real estate market.

Tim Allen Group Realtor Tim Overby said he quickly sold out of listings in the Winston Ridge community, which is a large development of 550 homes.

"With so many people working from home now, they can do their job just as well in Franklin County as they can in Wake County," he said.

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With a prominent presence in Lee County, the town of Sanford has rightfully earned its spot as being a boomtown.

A home with a little more than 2,700 square feet is selling for $475,000. It's considered a deal when you think across the county border in Wake Forest the same home could cost an additional $75,000-$100,000.

"Someone can save a lot of money a few miles north, you don't even have to go very far and you save a ton of money," said Overby.

Prices in Franklin County, however, are expected to keep rising.

The latest Zillow data for Louisburg shows almost a two percent rise in home values from last year and they're anticipated to increase almost six percent by this time next summer.

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Just south of Raleigh, Fuquay-Varina's population has more than doubled since the 2010 census and that's good for business.

Franklin County's population is estimated to shoot up by more than 70 percent by 2050 and all of this growth means local leaders must keep up.

One current project improves the communication ability of residents.

"It doubles the number of towers that we have for emergency communications in the county, and we're delighted about that because we are planning for the growth that is coming," said Franklin County Manager Kim Denton. "We are very delighted at all of these kinds of things and this level of interest here in Franklin County."