Jona Ison and Craig Shoup NEWS HEARLD
Local Airports Provide Economic Impact and Jobs
September 13, 2014
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  • Ohio’s publicly owned airports account for a $13 billion economic impact, according to a study aimed at helping direct spending of federal aviation money.

    The Ohio Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation will present draft recommendations from its Airports Focus Study at seven public meetings this month. Final recommendations will be released in December.

    The two-year study was requested by the FAA to evaluate the economic impact of Ohio’s public airports and their improvement needs. The study, conducted by Massachusetts-based consulting firm CDM Smith, cost $2.3 million and was funded primarily by the FAA, ODOT press secretary Steve Faulkner said.

    “Findings and recommendations are based on site visits and data collected from all 104 publicly owned airports in Ohio, interviews with county and state economic officials, a pilot survey, public input received from two earlier rounds of public meetings, and extensive technical analysis,” Faulkner said.

    Statewide, the study determined the 104 airports are responsible for $13.3 billion in economic benefits, 2 percent of Ohio’s workforce, $4.2 billion in annual payroll, and $29.6 million in annual tax revenue.

    The majority of Ohio’s public airports are considered general aviation and were the primary focus of the study. The 97 general aviation airports are responsible for $1.8 billion in economic benefits each year. Part of that benefit comes from 17,500 jobs and $688 million in payroll.

    The study found that 198 jobs, $6.3 million in payroll and $18.6 million in output of goods and services can be attributed to Carl R. Keller Field. The most frequent operations include aircraft charters, corporate flights, flight training and recreational flights.

    The airport is considered an essential link to Lake Erie residents and its airports, especially because ferry service is suspended during the winter months.

    The airports on Put in Bay, Kelleys Island, North Bass Island and Middle Bass Island together are responsible for 73 jobs, more than $2 million in payroll and nearly $7.2 million in output. The bulk of the economic benefit is from Put in Bay Airport, where there are three on-site businesses and seasonal military operations.

    The figures are based on 2012 data and take into account purchases by at-site businesses, government agencies and several million visitors. The figures also include the value of those dollars circulating through the community.

    The economic findings will be used as part of the evaluation process when determining ODOT and Federal Aviation Administration funding awards. Each year, ODOT directs nearly $1 million, and the FAA $20 million, to general aviation airports across the state.

    The primary source of the funding is taxes on fuel and airline tickets. The study also provides recommendations for improvements using FAA standards that could change after the public comment period. The study notes the information is to be used for planning purposes and “should not supersede detailed engineering studies, airport master plans or pavement maintenance plans.”

    The Erie-Ottawa International Airport received no recommendations from the FAA. The primary runway was listed in good condition, and no action is needed at this time, airport general manager Stan Gebhardt said. All other pavement was graded in fair condition.

    Improving pavement condition was the primary recommendation at the four island airports. However, the study suggested Kelleys Island Municipal Airport acquire land to create a runway protection zone.

    Faulkner said ODOT officials hope local residents will use the information to better understand their needs and make plans and to “communicate their local airport’s economic value to the community and decision-makers.”

    Ohio aviation by the numbers

    $13.3 billion — Annual economic benefit of the 104 publicly owned airports

    231,000 — Jobs provided by public and commercial airports

    $29.6 million — Public airport annual tax revenues that mostly support the state’s general fund

    $11.5 billion — Annual economic benefit of the 7 commercial airports

    73 — Airport/pilot training programs

    Provide feedback

    The draft recommendations will be discussed at seven public meetings:

    • 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Warren County Career Center, 3525 Ohio 48 North, Lebanon

    • 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday at Avetec, 4170 Allium Court, Springfield

    • 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday at Pike County Government Center, Rooms 104 and 105, 230 Waverly Plaza

    • 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 22 at Zane State College, EPIC Building Room 608, 9900 Brick Church Road, Cambridge

    • 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 23, Delaware Community Center YMCA, 1121 S. Houk Road, Delaware

    • 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 24 at Findlay Inn and Conference Center, Hancock Room, 200 E. Main Cross St., Findlay

    • 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 29 at Brecksville Community Center, 1 Community Drive, Brecksville

    Drafts from the Ohio Airports Focus Study are available at a link under Division of Operations at Comments will be collected at the meetings or can be emailed to