Christin Nance Lazerus
In July, Vice President Joe Biden flew in and out of Porter County Regional Airport on a fundraising trip.
Fifty Chinese students are receiving flight training at Griffith/Merrillville Airport.
Each of these situations impacts Northwest Indiana beyond cost of the flight itself — from customers patronizing local restaurants to students needing to rent apartments and cars.
The Aviation Association of Indiana, in connection with the Indiana Department of Transportation and Conexus, is taking a different look at how airports big and small impact surrounding communities economically. Its annual study, due out in mid-October, used to focus almost exclusively on businesses within the airport boundaries.
Now, the study, which involves the Indiana Department of Transportation and Conexus, will take into account factors such as sales at rental car agencies and local jobs that require frequent jet trips, as well as the indirect effect of how airport employees spend their wages at restaurants and other local businesses.