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Tavares, Leesburg team up to attract seaplane business

Seaplanes in Tavares

When it comes to promoting Lake County as a destination for seaplanes, Tavares, which has branded itself The Seaplane City, and Leesburg, its neighbor on Lake Harris, have become a team.

The two towns plan to share a booth at the National Business Aviation Association's Conference in Las Vegas this November where they will jointly promote the area as a haven for the planes that can land on water.

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"It's a great opportunity for both (cities), said Michael Rankin, Leesburg's economic development director, of the event.

Tavares was the first town to make itself seaplane friendly, by creating docks and providing access to fuel without the planes having to leave the water. The city regularly sponsors "fly-ins" and other events to attract the planes to town.

It also offers economic incentives for aviation-related businesses to move in. The city favors commercial or industrial enterprises engaged in the sale, manufacture, production, assembly, marketing, or passenger service of or for seaplanes or their components if they meet some criteria, including having 25 or more full-time employees in Tavares.

While the city of Tavares has a place for the planes to refuel, Leesburg is in the process of making it easy for the planes to be serviced while they are visiting. Leesburg owns land between Leesburg International Airport and Lake Harris and is in the process of planning a ramp out of the water and over to the tarmac so the planes can taxi over to various plane repair and maintenance facilities there.

It will take about a year to get the ramp built and operating. Engineering for the $2.6 million ramp is in process now, said Rankin.

tburney@growthspotter.com or 407-420 6261

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