We are fortunate to call Southwest Virginia our home. The people, communities and our natural resources are the envy of the Commonwealth; and each year more and more companies are locating here – bringing new opportunities and jobs.
A key contributor to our quality of life is our strong and vibrant aviation system. From Lee County Airport to Blue Ridge Regional Airport in Martinsville, Virginia’s Aviation Region 1 is the home to 10 of Virginia’s 66 public-use airports. By themselves, these 10 airports employ 463 people; pay wages in excess of $15.2 million annually; and generate nearly $42 million in economic activity each year. In addition, they provide for the movement of people and goods into and out of our area.
While we don’t have a commercial service airport in our region, we have seven general aviation regional airports (Lonesome Pine, Virginia Highlands, Tazewell County, Mountain Empire, New River Valley, Virginia Tech-Montgomery Executive, and Blue Ridge); two general aviation community airports (Lee County and Twin County); and one local service airport (Grundy). These airports serve as the front door to our communities, and they constitute the first impression of guests to our area. We should be justly proud of these vital assets; however, to ensure that they continue to serve as catalysts for continued economic development wins, support from all levels of government – particularly state and local government – is paramount.
Localities that want to grow their economies support their airports, and they do that by working with the Virginia Aviation Board (VAB) and the Virginia Department of Aviation (DOAV). Each year, the VAB allocates more than $30 million from two sources of revenue to support the operations, maintenance, safety and planning of Virginia’s 66 public-use airports. In addition to the significant funding, our area’s airports have received vital technical assistance from the DOAV to ensure we have excellent facilities and services.
I consider it an honor to be your representative on the VAB, and I’m proud of the work the dedicated professionals at the DOAV provide to the Region 1 airports and their sponsors. Our airport system provides companies around the world the ability to deliver their products and services to their customers efficiently and cost effectively. And, like parks, greenspace, schools and libraries, airports help define quality of life for our communities. The Virginia Aviation Board and the Virginia Department of Aviation are proud to be partners and financial supporters of our 10 public-use airports – the gateway to economic prosperity and to the world.