Longmont is fortunate to be one of several Colorado communities that benefit economically from the presence of an airport. Vance Brand Airport, like other Colorado airports, serves the needs of businesses, residents and visitors who come to Colorado every day.
In 2013, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics conducted an economic impact study of Vance Brand Airport on the local economy. That analysis found that jobs resulting from operations at Vance Brand total 204, with annual payroll of $9.1 million and a total direct and indirect economic impact of $27.7 million. This includes all operations at the airport as well as the impact of visitors who use Vance Brand. According to the CDOT assessment, 22,000 visitors arrive in Colorado via Vance Brand every year, making it one of the busiest general aviation airports in the state. If the airport was considered a single local business, it would be on the list of Longmont’s 50 largest employers.
Another important economic contribution from Vance Brand is local tax dollars. Annual local and state taxes linked to the operation of Vance Brand total $891,000, according to CDOT. In addition, our airport requires no subsidy from the city of Longmont as airport tenant and user fees pay for 100 percent of airport operations.
In addition to ensuring that Vance Brand remains an economic engine for the community, the city of Longmont will continue working to address noise concerns. To that end, we will encourage commercial development over residential development near the airport as called for in the Longmont Area Comprehensive Plan. Second, we will work with operators at Vance Brand to comply with voluntary noise abatement procedures and work with tenants to provide for additional noise reduction. Third, we will ask the Federal Aviation Administration to enlarge or modify the FAA-mandated flight “box” under which the majority of noise complainants live. Much of that box is outside our city limits.
However, the federal government places severe limits on a city’s ability to restrict airport operations to reduce noise. As noted by one of the nation’s top airport noise attorneys during a public meeting last month, attempts by city governments to mandate noise reduction are very costly and have a low probability of success. Enacting restrictions can also lead to forgoing future — and repayment of past — FAA grants that are the lifeblood of airport improvement projects.
The City of Longmont will continue to invest in Vance Brand through implementation of the Airport Master Plan, thereby increasing the airport’s positive economic impact. To that end, new Airport Manager David Slayter is beginning to address infrastructure issues such as utilities and taxiway repair, proposing new guidelines for use of the airport, designing new signage, facilitating new contracts for grounds maintenance and recruiting prospective tenants using the airport’s new designation as a Colorado Aviation Development Zone.
We invite you to get to know your airport. There are several opportunities for participation starting with a visit to the airport website, www.longmontcolorado.gov/airport. Vance Brand will also host the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours at 5 p.m. Aug. 20. Slayter is available to meet with residents and business owners as well as present information about the airport to your group or organization. He can be reached at 303-651-8431 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shawn Lewis is assistant city manager for External Services, which includes the airport. David Slayter oversees operations of Vance Brand Airport as Longmont’s airport manager.