WYOMING — The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) and the Wyoming Airports Coalition unveiled the results of the 2020 Aviation Economic Impact Study today, which is the first study done since 2013.
Study results showed that in 2020 air service had a $2 billion impact on the annual economic activity in the state, employed nearly 22 thousand people, and contributed over $87 million in state and local tax revenues.
In 2013, aviation generated $1.4 million in economic activity, employed 12,000 people, and contributed $55 million in tax revenues. Devon Brubaker, Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport Director said this $600 million increase in economic activity comes from a focus on direct impacts from airports such as annual employment, annual payroll, and annual spending.
Those direct impacts work together with indirect and induced impacts to find total economic impacts. Indirect impacts result from industries purchasing from other industries, whereas induced impacts result from the expenditure of new income associated with direct and indirect impacts.
Brubaker was part of a panel which discussed the impact study results. Other panelists included Diane Shober, Executive Director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism, Josh Dorrell, CEO of the Wyoming Business Council, and Mike Wander, President of L&H Industrial.
During their discussion, they explained how important air service is for tourism, business recruitment, and business retention in Wyoming. Shober said air service plays an important role in bringing tourists into the state who will then contribute to the local economies.
Dorrell said people looking to bring businesses into the state typically first ask about air service. They want not only commercial air service, but general aviation as well. Furthermore, established businesses in the state often require air service to expand their businesses.
Brubaker explained that in addition to commercial air service, aviation is crucial to the state for cargo, agriculture, wildland fire suppression, and medical flights. He said about 83 percent of the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport’s operating revenue is made up from general aviation.
With the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, some airports in the state experienced a decline in business, and Wander said this is a good example of why the Capacity Purchase Agreement (CPA) is so necessary. He said the CPA ensures the service will be there and will be sustainable in tough times, which is what businesses want and need in Wyoming.
“It’s important that when we speak to residents, when we speak to local businesses and industries, that they really recognize the economic value. Every dollar that we invest in capital, every dollar that we invest in operations, has an immediate return back into the economy,” Brubaker said.
Brubaker added that the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport has major capital projects in the works, such as the commercial terminal modernization project. This study will help local residents understand the importance of these projects, not only for the airports but for the overall community, Brubaker said.
“For every dollar that we spend on air service in Wyoming, it’s 13 direct dollars back into the economy,” Brubaker said.
He believes this impact study will help advocate to both local and state governments for placing investments where the community’s will see a return investment.
“As we enter what’s likely to be one of the toughest budget seasons that we’ve ever encountered, everywhere in the state, this information is going to help us make sure that we target our investments and target our expenditures where it maximizes a return investment; not just for the airport but for the community’s we serve,” Brubaker said.
The complete 2020 Aviation Economic Impact Study can be found here. The panel discussion with Brubaker can be viewed below.