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By the numbers
Here’s a look at the statewide economic impact of northeast Indiana airports:
• DeKalb County Airport … $222 million
• Warsaw Municipal Airport … $858.8 million
• Huntington Municipal Airport … $19.4 million
• Kendallville Municipal Airport … $6.8 million
• Smith Field, Fort Wayne … $4.7 million
• Tri-State Steuben County Airport … $841,893
• Wabash Municipal Airport … $6.3 million
Source: Conexus Indiana

Indiana airports provide big lift for economy: Report

Indiana’s 69 public-use airports contribute $14.1 billion in annual economic impact, according to a report released today by the Aviation Association of Indiana.

The study also credits the industry with creating and sustaining more than 69,000 Hoosier jobs. Fort Wayne International Airport’s portion is $975.4 million and nearly 5,000 jobs.

Indianapolis International Airport contributed the most to the state’s economy at $4.5 billion and about 21,000 jobs.

The study was modeled after Federal Aviation Administration methodologies to determine the economic impact of “on-airport and off-airport property businesses.”

The 2012 report takes into consideration all direct, in-direct and residual activity. For example, a company may have executives fly in to visit its local plant. When they eat at area restaurants, pay for entertainment or make similar purchases, that all contributes to economic impact.

Many jobs in the local service industry are reliant on the airport bringing in outside traffic, the report says.

General Motors Co., Lutheran Health Network, Parkview Health and Vera Bradley were among the businesses asked about their dependence on the local airstrip in Fort Wayne.

“This is the first time that companies were included in the survey, but it is consistent with the way the FAA conducts studies,” said Bart Giesler, executive director of the Aviation Association of Indiana. “There’s a perception that airports are about rich pilots flying around … actually, airports help local businesses meet their needs and allow them to have access to their customers.”

The Aviation Association and Conexus Indiana partnered with the state Department of Transportation to develop the 24-page report that outlines how Indiana’s airports benefit the economy. Conexus Indiana is the state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative.

“One of the first things companies look for is access to the globe,” said Scott Hinderman, executive director of airports at Fort Wayne International. “An airport is very instrumental when companies choose to locate into a community. If you don’t have one, you could be left out.”

A Conexus Indiana leader agrees.

“This report quantifies the impact airports have on our state and validates our continued focus on airports as key economic drivers,” David Holt said in a statement. He is vice president of operations and business development for Conexus Indiana.