In the vast region that is the Midland Empire, one of the most underappreciated assets is Rosecrans Memorial Airport.
This lack of understanding among the general public would be a bigger problem, save for the interest and support consistently provided by our top elected officials — city, county, state and federal — and managers in St. Joseph’s city government.
And now, with help from a new study by the Missouri Department of Transportation, boosters of the airport three miles northwest of the city in Buchanan County have leverage to argue for more investments that can produce even more positive benefits.
Most people know our general aviation airport is home to the 139th Airlift Wing of the Missouri Air National Guard. The importance of that is found in the study’s findings recounted recently in the News-Press:
• Rosecrans contributed a total of $162.3 million to the local and area economy in 2012. That figure was good enough to make it second among all general aviation airports in the state.
• Employment at the airport — heavily impacted by the presence of Air Guard units — was calculated at 1,437 jobs, up about 90 positions from a decade earlier.
• Payroll at the airport totaled $92.3 million, up sharply from the $63.2 million reported a decade before.
It has been more than 40 years since the airport hosted commercial airline service, which now is the exclusive area domain of Kansas City International Airport some 30 miles to the south.
Still, Rosecrans has enjoyed an active menu of general aviation activity, including business and recreational travel in private aircraft, agricultural crop spraying, charter passenger and cargo services, and student pilot training.
No doubt the big military investment carries the day, but the city has an attractive asset and an array of desirable services at Rosecrans that are worthy of promotion and development as the region grows.