News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 19, 2012

Study finds Indiana airports — including five in Valley — giving big lift to state economy

TH airport seen generating $68.7M locally

TERRE HAUTE — A just-released economic impact study of Hoosier airports has Wabash Valley aviation officials flying higher than expected.

A 24-page report released Tuesday contends that Indiana’s 69 public-use airports generate $14.1 billion in economic output and sustain more than 69,000 jobs. In break-outs (below) explaining the numbers produced at each of the airports, the jobs and payroll of facility employees and tenants sites alike were tabulated.

Bill McKown, executive director of the Terre Haute International Airport, said at first look, he was a little surprised and thought the numbers were high at more than $68.7 million in economic output. But on further inspection, McKown said that figure might actually be a little low.

And given major developments already slated to land at the Terre Haute facility next year, he said bigger numbers are on the horizon.

“The big thing to remember is the economic impact (the airport) has on the community,” he said, describing aviation as part of a transportation mix including rail and highways. “We complete the equation.”

By the numbers

The 2012 Indiana Airports Economic Impact Study was organized by the Aviation Association of Indiana and Conexus Indiana in partnership with the Indiana Department of Transportation. Modeled after FAA-endorsed methodologies, it was designed to determine economic impact of on-airport and off-airport businesses using multipliers to estimate the rollover effect. State aviation officials said the data support their argument that aviation remains a significant component of the economy.

“These study results paint a clear picture of the value of Indiana’s airports not only to residents who rely on air travel for business and pleasure, but to the thousands of businesses that rely on airport services to move people and products,” Bart Giesler, executive director of the Aviation Association of Indiana, said in a news release. “This backs our continued assertion that aviation investment by the state creates jobs in the private sector. Airports connect Hoosier businesses to their customers, and this connection means jobs.”

According to the study, Indiana airports serve more than 6.5 million Hoosiers. Businesses that use those airports generate total payrolls exceeding $4.1 billion.

Of the total 69,149 jobs, approximately 30 percent exist at Indianapolis International Airport; another 23 percent exist at Indiana’s three other commercial airports; and the remaining 47 percent exist at Indiana’s 65 general aviation airports.

In addition to creating jobs in communities across the state, Indiana airports provide Hoosier communities with support for air cargo and logistics operations; emergency medical transportation; law enforcement/search-and-rescue efforts; aerial agricultural operations; flight training and education; land surveying; and entertainment.

Regionally, the report states Wabash Valley facilities are also generating substantial output totals:

• Sullivan County’s airport reportedly supports a total of 6.1 jobs, payroll impact of $347,571 and overall output of $841,385.

• Clay County’s airport supports a total of 76.8 total jobs, associated payrolls exceeding $3.2 million and a total output of more than $12.8 million.

• In Vermillion County, the airport is estimated to support 223.9 total jobs, payrolls of $11.4 million and overall output of $27.5 million.

• Putnam County’s airport reportedly supports 489.9 jobs, payrolls of $22.2 million and overall output of $103.4 million.

• And the Terre Haute airport impacts 772.4 jobs, payrolls of $39.8 million and an overall output of $68.7 million.

McKown said the local facility’s numbers reflect the partnership with multiple military units, including the 181st Intelligence Wing of the Indiana Air National Guard.

“The Guard is probably the largest employer here,” he said, explaining those jobs and associated businesses would most likely be absent were it not for an airport here. Other businesses maintain employees at the facility, from the restaurant to Tri-Aerospace, Williams Aviation and White Construction, he said.

Depending on how one counts the numerous part-time positions or seasonal labor associated with the facility’s rented farm ground and ongoing construction projects, the total on-site number of workers could actually be as high as 900, he said, adding overall economic impact could realistically be in excess of $70 million.

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