Mississippi Business Journal
MDOT study: State’s airports generate $2.5B-plus in economic activity
July 29, 2014
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  • ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — According to a recent study by the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), the state’s 73 airports generate more than $2.5 billion annually in economic activity, provide vital connectivity links enabling businesses to function more efficiently and improve the quality of life for residents in airport communities.

    “This study indicates how substantial the aviation industry is to Mississippi,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “When all of the impacts of the state’s 73 public-use airports are added together, over 20,000 jobs can be traced to the aviation industry, representing nearly $722 million in total wages.”

    The state’s eight commercial service airports accommodate over 1.1 million passengers annually and include Golden Triangle Regional in Columbus/Westpoint, Greenville Mid-Delta, Gulfport-Biloxi International, Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional, Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International, Key Field in Meridian, Tunica Municipal and Tupelo Regional. The other 65 general aviation airports are significant generators of business revenue and wages, creating thousands of jobs and producing millions of dollars of economic impact throughout Mississippi each year.

    “Visitors arriving in Mississippi via general aviation aircraft each year support businesses in the hospitality sector such as dining, retail, lodging and entertainment,” said Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall. “These airports generate benefits that build the state’s economy along with the non-aviation employers who rely on the airport system to support their daily business activities.”

    In Mississippi, agriculture is the number one industry generating $7.5 billion annually and employing 29 percent of the state’s workforce either directly or indirectly. There are approximately 42,400 farms covering 11.2 million acres across the state’s 82 counties that rely on aircraft to apply fungicides and insecticides to cotton, corn, wheat and soybeans. Without airports and the services provided by aviators, the state’s agriculture industry could suffer a severe blow to crops and ability to maximize their growth potential.

    There are approximately 230 licensed agricultural aviation pilots, over 100 aerial applicator businesses and over 190 registered aircraft for agricultural purposes in Mississippi.

    In addition to substantial annual economic benefits, Mississippi airports have numerous qualitative benefits related to health, welfare and safety that cannot be easily assigned dollar values. Examples of the benefits include facilitating emergency medical transport, providing support to law enforcement, conducting search-and-rescue operations, providing aerial surveying and supporting military operations.