William Gartner, Professor, Applied Economics
Airport managers and commissioners confront a dilemma when trying to make a case or present arguments regarding the value of their airport. There has been no previous systematic study to determine the economic impact of small and medium sized airports on their local communities. The availability of a user-friendly tool to estimate local economic impact is something from which many airport managers would derive great benefit. There has been progress made recently in developing economic impact measurement tools for other types of "difficult to measure" activities (e.g. festivals and events). These tools all require the establishment of standards drawn from and based on present local economic activity. This project developed a Web-based economic impact measurement tool for small and medium sized commercial and general aviation airports in Minnesota, requiring only basic data such as the types and number of businesses associated with the airport. In this case, economic impact is defined as the result of expenditures or sales transactions between businesses or other entities that can be directly traced to the presence of an airport. The process involved site visits to 51 airports, meetings with airport managers, Fixed Base Operators (FBO), and Metropolitan Council officials, as well as data collection of financials from airport sponsors and FBOs. After testing on the calculator was completed, it was transferred to the MnDOT Aeronautics server.