Hoping to capitalize on the name recognition, county commissioners Tuesday voted unanimously to rename Hernando County's airport the Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport.
The board was unfazed by a threatened legal battle.
An attorney for Tampa International Airport has said the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority holds a property interest in the combination of words "Tampa" and "Airport" and that her client would defend that interest in court.
County Attorney Garth Coller said Tuesday case law supports Hernando County and a challenge would be defensible.
Economic Development Manager Mike McHugh said the new name allows his staff to better market the airport and adjacent industrial park to outside businesses not as familiar with Hernando County.
"The airport has emerged as an economic powerhouse," McHugh said.
The new name was chosen after 18 months of research, focus groups, public meetings and design work.
The other name not chosen was the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Airport.
County Commissioner Jeff Stabins was hesitant at first and was "perplexed" McHugh would want to tie into the Tampa name when his office for years has been bemoaning the fact that most employees here are commuting to that urban area and out of Hernando County.
"It's a tough sell for me, to be honest," Stabins said. "I'm just not quite convinced yet."
Stabins said Tampa is a city, not a region.
But he later changed his mind.
There are more than 120 businesses located at the Hernando County Airport, which includes the industrial park, corporate park and RailPark. More than 2,300 people are employed there.
McHugh said he wants a brand name that is an accurate portrayal of the facility and its geographic position to Tampa.
Staff will now move forward with an implementation plan, which will encompass logo and brand development, new signage and enhancements to the business parks on the site.
Rebranding the airport will be a long-term commitment and will occur over several years. Staff estimates the direct expense will be $30,000, which will come out of airport fund money.
Commissioners will receive a formal budget and implementation plan with actual rebranding expenses and business park capital improvements in four to six weeks.
County Commissioner John Druzbick said other airports have adopted a regional identity and he supports the rebranding.
"It just brings a little more recognition to what we have," Druzbick said.
Hernando Aviation Authority Chairman Gary Schraut said the name change makes sense logistically.
"We're part of the Tampa metropolitan statistical area," Schraut said. "This is who we are and so when we're selling Brooksville, Hernando County and this (area), it only makes sense that we be the Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport."