December 21, 2011 PITTSFIELD, Mass. – A new study says the three Berkshire airports generate $37.5 million and 298 jobs for the county. The statewide economic impact study completed by the state Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division released on Tuesday looked at all of the state’s airports in terms of economic activity and related jobs. The totals were derived from on-site impacts – such as flight schools, aircraft maintenance, sponsors, military, operations – added to off-site impacts – such as spending at restaurants, hotels and entertainment as well as capital improvement projects. The Walter J. Koladza Airport in Great Barrington is directly responsible for the employment of 38 people and about $1 million in payroll and benefits, which translates to $2.5 million in total economic output, the report says. The Pittsfield Municipal Airport employs 125 with a payroll just short of $5 million with an overall economic impact of just under $18 million. Harriman & West Airport in North Adams is responsible for 135 jobs, a payroll of about $5.3 million and a total impact just short of $17 million. “The airports of the Berkshires are proven economic engines for the commerce and tourism in the region, creating jobs directly while making many more jobs possible in the private sector,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey in a press release. To no surprise, the biggest contributor to the statewide economy is Boston Logan International Airport, which is responsible for nearly 95,000 jobs and an economic impact nearing $9 billion. Overall airports contribute to the employment of 124,369 people with payroll and benefits accounting to close to $4.9 billion with a total economic impact of $11 billion. The state estimates $576 million is collected in tax revenue because of the airports. “The economic impact study confirms what the aviation community statewide understands about the vital role our airports play in providing safe transportation for commerce, military, and recreational users,” Christopher Willenborg, MassDOT Aeronautics Division administrator, said in the statement. Willenborg recently presented the results of the study at a hearing with the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation at Pittsfield City Hall, at which he encouraged the state to continue investing in aviation. He pointed to recent investments that state has made in the county including paying $13.4 million of a $22 million safety project in Pittsfield. North Adams’ recent completion of a new runway was close to a $7 million project. “We need to continue making investments in our critical airport infrastructure to help stimulate the economy,” Willenborg told the panel. There are nine commercial airports in the state, three of which are owned and operated by the state Port Authority, and 30 general use airports.
Gov. Deval Patrick declared the month of November as “general aviation month” in an effort to promote aviation.