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Louisville Regional Airport Authority Honors J.D. Nichols, Former Board Chair

May 20, 2024

Personal monument unveiled recognizing visionary leadership, lasting impact to Louisville’s airport and community

Today the Louisville Regional Airport Authority honored J.D. Nichols, former Board Chair, community business leader and catalyst for the expansion of the now-Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF), with a personal statue highlighting his contributions to the airport and community.

“J.D. Nichols was instrumental in seeing the vision and future for our airport,” said Dale Boden, Chair of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority Board. “His drive and determination decades ago have allowed SDF to flourish and evolve into a global leader for cargo operations and a significant economic driver for our region. However, if not for J.D. Nichols, UPS Worldport, the center point of their global air operations, may not be located in Louisville, nor would our region’s vibrant logistics industry.”

Nichols was one of the longest-serving Airport Authority Board members, with more than 20 years of service from October 1991 through July 2012. He was the Board Chair from December 2003 until November 2009, and was Vice Chair twice during his tenure for a combined eight years.

During this time, he was a constant voice of growth and progress as leadership for the Airport Authority, city and at that time, county ultimately decided on a billion-dollar expansion of SDF’s footprint with two new parallel runways. This in turn, made way for UPS to make Louisville the home of their domestic and international air operations.

Nichols was also crucial to developing the innovative concept and implementation of Metropolitan College, a program that pays for the college or technical training tuition of students who are working part-time at UPS. This not only provided a stable workforce, but allowed for the growth of what is now UPS Worldport. While this is an impressive feat as the largest automated packaging facility in the world, perhaps more importantly, to date, more than 22,000 students have benefitted from this program.

Nichols was also instrumental in the creation of the Louisville Renaissance Zone Corporation and the state’s first Tax Increment Financing (TIF), that lead to the nearly 700-acre Renaissance South Business Park. This ultimately funded $81 million in crucial infrastructure projects, multi-millions of dollars in the private development of more than 6.7 million square feet of facilities and a 40-acre conservation area in the business park.

Thanks to this foundation for its current success, SDF today is a leader on the global stage as the sixth busiest cargo airport in the world and third busiest in North America. Louisville’s airports produce $10.4 billion in annual economic impact for the region including nearly 83,000 direct and indirect jobs – or nearly 1 in 8 jobs in Louisville Metro. Plus, more than $454 million is contributed to state and local taxes, the equivalent of nearly $1 in every $7 in Louisville Metro tax revenue.

The new statue and dedication plaque are located at SDF, at the center of the arrivals curb across from baggage claim and adjacent to the pedestrian walkways from the Jerry E. Abramson Terminal to the parking garage. Standing 6-feet tall, the cast bronze statue was sculpted by local artist and Falls Art Foundry co-owner Matt Weir.

“Today was a special day for me as I look back on the many accomplishments during my time as a member of the Airport Authority Board, especially as its Chair and Vice Chair,” said J.D. Nichols. “We did so many great things that shaped the prominent and significant role the Louisville airport plays in our community. I am so appreciative of today’s acknowledgement and dedication, and grateful to share it with my family, friends and so many in the community I worked with along the way. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for our airport and city.”

As its founder, Nichols continues to serve as Chairman for NTS, which has successfully developed and managed 10,000 acres of land and more than 11.2 million square feet of real estate throughout the country.