By Rick Rouan
Port Columbus International Airport, Rickenbacker International Airport and Bolton Field contribute more than $4.6 billion a year to the local economy, according to a new economic impact study.
The Columbus Regional Airport Authority, which oversees all three airports, commissioned the six-month study. It found that the total economic output spurred by the airports has jumped by 69 percent since 2004, the last time the agency conducted such a study. The airports support 38,374 jobs and more than $1.3 billion in annual payroll, averaging just under $34,000 per job, the study found.
Cincinnati-based CDM Smith, which prepared the study, used employment, payroll and other data along with an Ohio-specific multiplier to calculate the airports’ local economic impact. The multiplier accounts for indirect economic impacts of local employment, like an airport employee who buys a car from a local dealer.
When some “off-airport” businesses such as the Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) Rickenbacker Intermodal Terminal and others in the Rickenbacker Global Logistics Park are included in the model, the number of local jobs, payroll and output the airports support grows considerably. Airports and Rickenbacker-area businesses support more than 54,000 jobs and contribute $6.6 billion to the area economy, according to the study.
The authority is trying to grow its presence. It is spending $80 million on improvements to the 835,000-square-foot terminal at Port Columbus in hopes of boosting its annual traffic count from about 6.4 million passenger to between 8 million and 10 million passengers a year, its maximum capacity.