One of our key tasks in Chautauqua County is to support and grow business. There are many ways to achieve this goal, but one important way is to support our local infrastructure, including our two area airports, John J. Nalbone Sr. Field in Dunkirk and Robert H. Jackson Field in Jamestown. Both airports support our local businesses and economy in a vital way, sometimes in ways not seen by the public.
The airports located in Jamestown and Dunkirk have a significant economic contribution to all of Chautauqua county. Trinity Biotech, a medical supply company located near the Jamestown Airport, manufactures specialized medical diagnosis kits and utilizes airport-based FedEx to ship its afternoon orders of products overnight to reach customers the next day across the state and even the country. Corporate executives from Cummins Inc., Nestle Purina, Bush Industries and many others traveling to/from our manufacturers and visitors traveling to our tourism destinations, such as Chautauqua Institution, enjoy the convenience of our local airports, saving them time and TSA delays. In addition, tourism is a major driver for economic activity in our county. Passenger travel in and out of Jamestown airport is complemented by free parking, which is also a major attraction for Chautauqua County tourists and business travelers.
Many are not aware of the everyday benefits general aviation provides to our communities. The truth is that general aviation and local airports support businesses and organizations of all sizes across our state and country. General aviation alone has an economic impact of over $1 billion in the state and across the country it supports more than 1.2 million jobs and $150 billion in economic impact. In addition, general aviation plays a crucial role in law enforcement, emergency medical care, search-and-rescue and disaster response.
A particularly harmful proposal for a $100-per-flight user fee has been included in the president’s budget proposal that would disproportionately impact businesses, farms and smaller communities. It would also require a new layer of bureaucracy that would be cumbersome and difficult to comply with for operators.
This new user fee also comes at a time when many of our businesses are still struggling to recover from the economic downturn and compete in an increasingly tough global environment. A good first step is that many of our local elected officials in New York seem to understand the importance of general aviation and local airports.
Let’s all work together to recognize the vital importance of this form of transportation to our businesses and communities here in Chautauqua County and all across the State of New York.
Vincent W. Horrigan is the county executive of Chautauqua County and a member of the Alliance for Aviation Across America.