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Airport important economic engine for Merrimack Valley
January 5, 2012
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  • January 2, 2012 By Jim Patten
    NORTH ANDOVER – Lawrence Municipal Airport has 220 workers, an $8 million payroll, and an annual output of goods and services totaling $23,469,000, but that is only part of the story, airport manager Michael Miller said.
    The numbers were highlighted in a study of the economic impact of airports throughout the state that showed public airports generate $11.9 billion in economic activity and support 124,000 jobs.
    Miller, 43, manager of the local airport since 2001, said during the time he has been on board, the airport has attracted several new aviation businesses including the North Andover Flight Academy, a flight school; MBM Helicopters a repair facility; Air Bear, a repair facility, Executive Flyers, a maintenance and repair facility; Boston Medflight, which relocated one of its helicopter ambulances from Hanscom Field in Bedford, and the State Police Air Wing, which bases a helicopter at the airport.
    All of those businesses are in addition to long-time airport tenants, among them, Eagle East Aviation, 4-Star Aviation and Angel Flight.
    “It provides a portal to the area,” Miller said of the airport.
    The airport allows investors to get closer to their investments, he said.
    “Time is money and the closer they are to an airport, it works to their advantage,” Miller said.
    There are currently 240 aircraft based at the airport, he said.
    In terms of land mass, there are probably larger airports out there, Miller said.
    “But in terms of operations, based aircraft, the control tower and instrument-based landing aids, we are the fifth largest public use airport in New England,” he said.
    The airport not only serves the aircraft based there, it also serves as a testing facility for numerous aviation-related companies, who are located off the airport, Miller said.
    A prime example is the Terrafugia Company of Woburn which is doing ground testing at the airport for its flying car project.
    “We have a great working relationship with the tower, the managers of the airport. We look forward to doing more testing in Lawrence,” said Richard Gersh, vice president of business development for Terrafugia.
    Klein Electric of Salem, N.H. is using airport facilities to develop a ground-based radar system for the U.S. Navy that will be used at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
    And Raytheon has a presence at the airport developing a portable, deployable radar system for the U.S. Air Force, he said.
    There is a company on the field working with the Department of Homeland Security to develop a portable X-ray machine.
    And Mills Machine Works is working on a recovery vehicle for recovering drones based on Navy ships and has done some prototype work at the airport, Miller said.
    Regionally, the Lawrence and Beverly Municipal Airports together generate a combined $45.4 million for the regional economy, supporting 433 jobs, according to the study.
    “The Commonwealth’s airports create jobs, economic development and transportation options,” said Gov. Deval Patrick. “A strong regional economy depends on our investments in infrastructure, including facilities like the Lawrence and Beverly Airports.”
    The Statewide Airport Economic Impact Study completed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Aeronautics Division with the assistance of the Federal Aviation Administration measured the total economic impact of the 39 public-use airports in Massachusetts, including Boston Logan International Airport. The airports’ $11.9 billion in economic activity and 124,000 related jobs reflects commercial airline service, military aviation, emergency law enforcement and medical transport activity and general aviation.
    “The Lawrence and Beverly Airports are critical to the regional economy, creating jobs directly while making many more jobs possible in the private sector,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey.
    “The economic impact study confirms what the aviation community statewide understands about the vital role our airports play in providing safe transportation for commerce, military, and recreational users,” said Christopher Willenborg, MassDOT Aeronautics Division administrator.

    Date: 2012-01-02