New Economic Tool Unveiled for Pennsylvania Airports

Lt. Gov. Austin DavisCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

TOUGHKENAMON, PA — In a significant step towards enhancing the economic potential of Pennsylvania’s aviation sector, Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis, PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) yesterday introduced a new Aviation Economic Impact Calculator. This tool, revealed at New Garden Flying Field in Chester County, will allow airports to gauge the economic impact of facility updates and activities.

The event coincided with the completion of a nearly $1 million terminal expansion project at New Garden Flying Field. This project was funded through Governor Josh Shapiro’s 2023-24 budget and the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

“As chair of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Aerospace States Association, I’m excited to highlight the tremendous economic impact that the aerospace and aviation industries have on the Commonwealth,” Davis said. “Pennsylvania’s public-use airports are a vital part of our transportation infrastructure, and we’re making smart, strategic investments in our airports to create even more jobs and economic growth.”

A New Tool for Economic Growth

PennDOT developed the Aviation Economic Impact Calculator to aid Pennsylvania’s 120 public-use airports. The tool calculates the economic effects of changes in airport activity, business tenants, and visitor spending. It produces estimates of employment, payroll, and overall economic output.

Airports are encouraged to participate in a training webinar on June 25 to learn how to use the tool effectively.

“This new resource and this project are prime examples of the Shapiro Administration’s laser focus on growing our economy through transportation,” said Secretary Carroll. “Pennsylvania’s aviation industry provides significant economic benefits and we’re pleased to help make it easier for them to plan for and increase their regional impact.”

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Demonstrating Commitment

The New Garden Flying Field project highlights Governor Shapiro’s focus on local economies. Last year’s state budget secured an additional $1.6 million for aviation, adding up to $8 million over five years. Furthermore, Pennsylvania airports will receive over $70 million annually from the BIL through 2026, with state funds available to match these federal contributions.

“These grants not only invest in the physical infrastructure of our airports, but also in strengthening safety and improving efficiency and accessibility for travelers, and help the economy thrive,” said FAA Associate Administrator for Airports Shannetta R. Griffin.

Impact of the Terminal Expansion

The terminal expansion at New Garden Flying Field, made possible by $859,138 in BIL funding, $64,046 in state funding, and $31,416 in local funding, added 2,000 square feet. This expansion includes a public lounge, ADA improvements, and extra storage space. The airport also hired a new receptionist and mechanic due to the expansion.

Economic Impact, Job Creation, and Community Support

Pennsylvania’s aviation industry is a powerhouse, employing over 226,000 people and contributing nearly $12.5 billion in payroll and benefits. The sector has an annual economic impact of $34 billion. Beyond travel, airports facilitate air cargo and freight, police and law enforcement, emergency medical services, firefighting, and disaster response.

Why This Matters
  1. Economic Growth: By providing airports with tools to measure their economic impact, Pennsylvania can better understand and enhance the benefits of its aviation sector. This can lead to smarter investments and greater economic development.
  2. Job Creation: Projects like the terminal expansion at New Garden Flying Field directly create jobs and stimulate local economies. The Aviation Economic Impact Calculator will help ensure that such projects continue to generate employment opportunities.
  3. Enhanced Services: Improved airport facilities mean better services for travelers and more efficient operations. This can attract more business and tourism, further boosting local economies.
  4. Community Support: Airports play a crucial role in emergency services and disaster response. Investing in their infrastructure ensures they can continue to support communities in critical times.
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Empowering Pennsylvania’s Airports

The unveiling of the Aviation Economic Impact Calculator marks a significant advancement for Pennsylvania’s airports. By equipping them with the tools to assess and enhance their economic contributions, the state is set to foster growth, create jobs, and improve services across the board. This initiative, supported by strategic investments and federal funding, promises a brighter future for Pennsylvania’s aviation industry and the communities it serves.

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