Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New airport would boost economy

Sustain Blaine's stated focus is "economics," not "locations." Conversely, economic benefit would be derived from any of several options: Friedman, Sites 10, 10A or 12. The premise that Friedman is the only economic option is factually misleading; data from every option should be presented for completeness. Landrum & Brown, global leader in aviation planning, published a 60-page study ( concluding that relocation would create $30 million new revenue, 500 new jobs. None of their economic data, quoted below, was mentioned at Sustain Blaine's meeting nor reported in any news articles: "Economic/air service studies completed."

Landrum & Brown has also completed economic analysis, including an aviation forecast that assesses future demands for air service in the region, and an economic analysis of the air passenger market. In a nutshell, these reports confirm, due to the limitations on expansion and operations at Friedman, that the number of passengers utilizing Friedman cannot increase in the future and a replacement airport will stimulate new air service and produce a $30 million annual positive impact from new visitor spending, increased economic activity associated with improved air traffic and new employment. Nearly 500 new jobs are projected as a direct result of a replacement airport.

While the specific economic projections were calculated prior to the economic downturn of 2009, the findings clearly indicate that a significant positive economic impact will result from a replacement airport regardless of the economic events of the last year to 18 months. Based on this report, it is hard to dismiss relocation if the airport is truly the "driving engine" of this valley (another driving engine—tourism?). Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole only moves us closer to losing relocation opportunities and Twin Falls becoming the regional airport. As Wally Huffman stated in September, "Any airport is better than no airport."

Donna Serrano


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