Airports in Collier County have seen an increase in economic impact over the past four years, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
The FDOT analysis released earlier this year shows the economic impact of Collier County’s three government-run airports increased 30% since 2014.
The Naples Airport, overseen by the city-appointed Naples Airport Authority, saw a 55% boost in its economic output over the same period.
At Marco Island Executive Airport, total economic output reached $31.7 million in 2018, up from $27.6 million in 2014. The output of Immokalee Regional Airport increased from $27.7 million to $39.1 million over the same period. The 2018 output of Everglades Airpark is at $2.3 million, up from $1.1 million in 2014. Naples Airport’s output increased from $283.5 million in 2014 to $440.1 million last year.
This increasing economic impact follows an upward trend that started in the late 2000s, said Collier County airports manager Justin Lobb.
The state analysis breaks down each airport’s economic impact into categories that include on-airport activity, visitor spending, military spending and industry reliance, Lobb said.
“All of that factors into then what the total economic output of our airports is,” he said.
Lobb highlighted improvements at Immokalee Regional Airport and Marco Island Executive Airport to explain the increase in economic impacts.
In Immokalee, the county has focused on improving the airport’s infrastructure.
“Particularly in Immokalee where a lot of the infrastructure is original World War II, we’ve been rehabilitating taxiways, runways. We’ve added new equipment to make it easier and more efficient for users to operate at the airport,” Lobb said.
Lobb credits these improvements with helping attract businesses like the Culinary Accelerator @ Immokalee, which opened at the airport in March 2018.
Marco Island Executive Airport has also succeeded in attracting businesses, including a new flight school and air-charter operator and is constructing a new terminal.
The county’s airports are a crucial part of the growth of local areas, said County Commissioner Bill McDaniel, whose district includes the Immokalee Regional Airport and Everglades Airpark.
“A key component to that long-term sustainability is infrastructure, and a component of the infrastructure is our municipal airports,” McDaniel said.
The report also showed that the economic impact of Florida’s 129 public airports totaled approximately $175 billion in 2017 and that airports impact Florida’s economy the most through visitor spending, followed by on-airport activity.