SSUE: Aviation in South Carolina
OUR VIEW: System of airports important for development, quality of life
One might say Gov. Nikki Haley will be flying high Monday night with her national profile. She addresses the Republican National Convention at 10 p.m. as a darling of the right and champion of development, with no business more in the spotlight than South Carolina’s aerospace industry fueled by Boeing and its big-time footprint in South Carolina. But aviation in the state is about more than the big jets being built in Charleston.
Recently, national aviation organizations recognized Haley for declaring Aug. 13-18 “Aviation Week.” Her proclamation highlighted the role that all aviation, including general aviation, plays in supporting businesses, farms, emergency response and the overall economy.
Aviation in South Carolina provides thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity, with general aviation alone contributing $417 million in economic activity, according to the Alliance For Aviation Across America.
“The alliance thanks Gov. Haley for her support of aviation and specifically, general aviation, in the state of South Carolina,” said Selena Shilad, executive director. “General aviation and local airports are invaluable for business and job growth, acting as a lifeline for small communities throughout the state.”
“Throughout South Carolina, 54 public-use airports support more than 3,000 general aviation aircraft and 6,600 pilots,” said Craig L. Fuller, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. “These airports and aircraft expand local commerce, help facilitate medical care and disaster relief and connect communities of South Carolina with the rest of the country.”
Among the 54 airports is Orangeburg Municipal, a city of Orangeburg facility about which Airport Commission member B. Reese Earley recently wrote extensively in The Times and Democrat. The title of his article: “So you didn’t know Orangeburg has an airport?”
Earley took readers on a tour, offering information that few not directly associated with the facility would have. If you’re interested in aviation, and even if you’re not so much so, you’ll find his article insightful. We’ve attached it to this editorial at TheTandD.com and urge you to take a look.
Meantime, consider that the local airport’s estimated impact is significant: $1.5 million in direct output, of which $125,000 is paid to approximately four direct full-time employees, and 15,800 visitors arriving at the Orangeburg airport each year, generating another $1 million in indirect aviation-related.
According to an Airport Commission publication that cites methodology approved by the Federal Aviation Administration in reaching its conclusions: “Including the multiplier effect, the airport tenants and visitors at Orangeburg Municipal Airport generate $4.3 million in total economic output, of which $1.9 million in payroll is paid to 68 full-time equivalent jobs.”
While one may not think of Orangeburg and airport traffic in the same light, aviation is significant here and around the state. Orangeburg Municipal and its two runways accommodate flights directly related to business and industry in our community, and serve as key ingredients on any list of community pluses for economic development.
A first-class airport system is essential in South Carolina and Orangeburg is a player in that system with a quality facility.