• Understand: Airports may contribute to local and regional economies in three primary ways:

    1. Airports may be regional job centers due to on-airport economic activity and employment.
    2. Airport locations and local economic needs may be conducive to economic development in the immediate vicinity of airports.
    3. Airports provide business travel and cargo services to local and regional businesses, and bring in customers for businesses in hospitality industries.

    The knowledge base in this section will guide you through an understanding of each of these three categories of economic contribution. You will also learn how the high-speed, long-distance, and reliable connections offered by air service play an important role within the business model of certain industries. Finally, you can discover the ways in which airports serve as job engines for a wide variety of occupations in a community or region.


    • My Airport as a Job Center: Explore the jobs and economic activity supported by day-to-day airport operations and by capital improvement programs. [Details]
    • My Airport Area: Consider the role of your airport as an anchor of industrial and commercial activity. [Details]
    • My Airport Is Not an Island: Learn how your airport can support economic activity throughout a region, not just at or adjacent to your airport. Understand the unique advantages offered by air transportation including the ability to provide speed, just-in-time and time-definite delivery, and access to remote areas. [Details]
    • Airport Jobs and Spinoff Effects: Understand the broad range of jobs supported by airports, both directly and through spinoff. [Details]



  • Explore: Airports are not expected to perform identical economic roles. Depending on size, community/regional characteristics, and functional role within the aviation network, each airport will contribute in a different manner to its regional economy. At one end, a large hub airport may contribute to tens of thousands of jobs in a metropolitan region, while at the other extreme, a small GA airport may support only the FBO/airport manager.

    The goal of this exploration section is to help you first establish the factors that determine the economic development potential of your airport, and second identify the actors with influence or control over those factors. Key factors include:

    • The economic composition of your region (and in particular, your “traded” or “export” industries)
    • Your airport’s location relative to other airports
    • The scale of commercial and/or GA operations and supporting services that facilitate passenger travel, cargo transport, and other functions such as agricultural spraying


    • Inside My Fence: Inventory the sources of on-airport economic activity at your airport. [Details]
    • Supporting “Traded Industries”: Learn how specific industries bring money into your economy by selling goods and services to other regions. [Details]
    • My Airport’s Market: Explore how your airport’s economic role is shaped by characteristics including airport location, runway size, and the kinds of air service provided. [Details]
    • My Airport’s Business Constituency: Survey airport-reliant businesses to understand the role your airport plays in supporting community business activity. [Details]
    • Visitor Spending: Understand how regional business sales are supported by visitors arriving by air. [Details]
    • Multi-Modalism Outside My Fence: All airport trips begin and end with surface transportation. Learn how multi-modal strategies support airport-related economic activity. [Details]


  • Take Action: Building on an understanding of your airport and its economic context, this section offers guidance on how to begin a conversation with your community regarding the economic role of your airport, as well as potential avenues for effecting change. While each airport and community will have a unique set of needs and appropriate “actions,” this section provides templates for action, based on successful practice across the country.

    The Understand and Explore sections of this toolkit have provided a starting point for an understanding of how airports contribute to the local, regional and national economies in general and in your community specifically. In order for the community to understand the airport’s pivotal role, the airport can both communicate and participate in the local and regional economic conversations. This section offers ideas on how to do it.

    Taking actions connected to the economic impact of the airport include communicating the information with the community directly and through advocates both inside and outside the airport fence. The airport already contributes to the economy but there are ways for the airport to play a more active role in business recruitment and economic development plans for the region. The airport as a part of the transportation network can also participate in the regional conversations about tourism and intermodal transportation as economic contributors.


    • The Value of My Airport: Assess and communicate the economic contribution of your airport. [Details]
    • “You Don’t Have to Take My Word for It”: Work with airport tenants and users to communicate the airport's importance to the community. Open channels of communication to understand needs both inside and outside your airport “fence.” [Details]
    • Being Part of the Location Decision: Coordinate with other groups involved in recruiting businesses to your community. Understand other factors involved in site selection. Communicate success stories. [Details]
    • Grow Together: Think strategically about how your airport and community can grow in mutually supportive ways. [Details]
    • My Airport as a Gateway: Coordinate on issues of tourism, and marketing with others such as tourism bureaus, major event centers, and transportation providers. [Details]
    • My Airport as an Intermodal Hub: Enhance connections with your community by working with passenger and freight surface transportation service providers. [Details]