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How good are new airports as economic generators?

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,551
Points
23
In the Chicago area, there's been a lot of talk over the past few years about constructing a new airport in the region's far south suburbs. There certainly is justification for increasing air transportation capacity in the area -- O'Hare and Midway are bursting at the seams. But the airlines are squeamish about partnering with anyone in the construction of a new airport.

Meanwhile, the south suburbs are gung-ho behind it, believing it will bring jobs and a newfound respect to a frequently overlooked part of the metro area. And the suburbs around O'Hare support the new site, because it would mean they avoid any O'Hare expansion. Problem is, the site proposed is about 40 miles south of the city, and for most in Chicagoland, anything south of the Loop is either "The South Side" or "Downstate" (if you're familiar with the area, you know what I mean). The south suburbs are a hodge-podge mix of '60s and '70s split-level suburbia and rapidly declining older industrial towns, all in various stages of resegregating from white to black. However, the site really is in the boonies.

My question now seems to be around exactly what type of economic benefit new airports can provide. I'm sure it varies by location. There's no question O'Hare was a huge boon to Chicago's northwest suburbs, but I suspect that growth there would've happened without an airport. On the other hand, Detroit's Metro Airport hasn't really done much to change the economic landscape immediately around it, and I've heard about how Mid-America Airport, in the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis, has failed miserably to attract flights, much less other development.

Much as the south suburbs needs an economic generator, I think this airport wouldn't do it. How well do airports stimulate economic development?
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,473
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23
i work next to the airport planners here and overhear most of what they do, doesn't make me an expert, but i know they're having problems with Trenton/Mercer airport and New Castle County (Wilmington, DE) but that demand for flights is up at Atlantic City and Lehigh Valley (Allentown).

Philly Int'l is maxed out.

I think the possibility for success lies in the current and future demand for flights. Demand isn't high at Mercer b/c it's too easy to go to Newark or Philly and demand is high at AC b/c it's a destination in its own right and b/c a discount airline operated there and draws a lot from Philly and the southern portions of the Newark market.

New Castle is 25 miles from Philly and 70 from Baltimore.
Allentown draws from northwestern NJ, the northern Philly suburbs, and from Scranton.

Allentown, AC, Newark, Philly, and BWI all have direct freeway/interstate connections. Trenton-Mercer and New Castle don't.

Newark, BWI and Philly all have rail stations with direct access to big cities and the entire Northeast.

Allentown has no such link. Atlantic City and Trenton-Mercer don't have them now but commuter trains currently run right along the property so a train station would only cost as much as rebuilding their 4 gate terminals next to the train tracks and building a train station. Delaware's transit agency is working on a rail connection from Wilmington to Dover that will stop at the airport - the ROW is already there.

Freight demand is pretty low here so it's not much of an issue in terms of future growth - and if it ever became a problem there's a lot of capacity at these secondary airports.

Just things i would think about in terms of a new airport. Local opposition? How big is the market and how much time will they save by not driving to Midway or O'Hare? How will this work with the fact that Midway and O'Hare will have more direct flights - will people really be saving time if they have to make a connection somewhere? How fast will business travelers and tourists be able to get downtown or to the suburbs with more economic activity?
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,551
Points
23
Thanks for the reply, jresta, but I was looking more for info on the impact of new airports on the economic development of the surrounding area. I'll provide some more general info, but I want to keep this an economic development thread and not a transportation one.

The south suburban site here is 40 miles south of the Loop and a continent away from the mindsets of most in the metro area. It's a greenfield with direct interstate access to downtown. There's no direct rail access to my knowledge, but I do believe that expanded rail connections would be part of the construction of the airport.

O'Hare and Midway are maxed out right now. O'Hare can be expanded, but at a great cost to the surrounding municipalities. Midway is hemmed in.

What I'm really interested in finding out is how successful are new airports as local economic engines. I know Denver just completed one to replace Stapelton. How many jobs are created? What kind of jobs? Was the airport a catalyst for more housing and commercial development?

This is just a layman's inquiry, not for any work project. I just wonder how successful the south suburban airport can be, given that Chicago's south suburbs are sort of the backwater location of the metro area.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
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10,624
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33
a teeny rant...

WAKE UP ILLINOIS!

Chicago already HAS its third major airport. Its called General Mitchell International Airport, and its located in Milwaukee, a quick 25 minutes north of the state line and in easy reach - less than 1 hour - from a great part of Chicago. Shortly (well, at leat in less time than buiding a new airport from scratch) the Metra commuter rail will even be stopping there on its way to Union Station.

Every time I fly out of Milwaukee I run into Illinois folks that are there because:

(1) Fewer delays
(2) Easy access
(3) Daily secure parking at 50% the cost
(4) More convenient flight times / fewer over bookings.
(5) Cheaper rates to many (not all) domestic destinations.

Do yourself a favor, Illinois, send the overflow to us, and when the time comes, build the fourth airport in Gary. ;)
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
Chet is absolutely right (twice tonight I agreed with him--damn). The chamber of commerce will never be convinced, and they will work to spend billions on a new ariport that will tear the community apart.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
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33
OK, now to seriously address your topic,although through onservation rather than an empirical study. :)

I live near Milwaukee's airport, and I would say yes, it is an economic engine for the region, being the portal for thousands of business and tourism transactions every year. However, this regional engine sputters in close proximity to the action. The airport is surrounded by economic activities that are generally low impact - salvage yards, mini storage buildings, and a number of tax exempt state and federal properties. The inner ring suburbs proximiate to it do not see the direct impact, save for Cudahy which developed an airport business park catering to a narrowly defined ' just in time ' manufacturing sector.

On the flip side, I used to work for a community of 8,000 in the far northwest part of the metro area. We had a municipal airport with a 3200 foot primary runway with FAA approved expansion plave to over 5,000 feet, and it was a key factor in attracting the nation's largest publishing company to construct a 1,000,000+ sqaure foot facility in that city. The federal financing structure for airports means most communities pay, at most 5% of the cost to construct them. The community's willingness to fund that cost has paid off a hundred fold.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
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24
Gary already has an airport, the Gary-Chicago airport. IMHO, it should be expanded with freight turned over to it from O'Hare and maybe express trains on the South Shore to service it.

Peatone is dead. The Suburbs lost that one. It's time to move on. O'Hare will be expanded. I like the idea of a bunch of suburban ****pods in Des Plaines being bulldozed, but I I think the expansion is a waste of money. The real way to solve the Chicago capacity problem is to take that six billion or whatever it is and use it to build the midwest higher-speed rail network. Get all of those people flying to Detroit, Indianapolis, and St. Louis out of Chicago's skies and onto rails and they'll be plenty of room for United flights to Flordia.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
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1,473
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23
i agree with the above - esp. the midwest hi-speed rail initiative

the point of my previous post was a way of looking at just how much economic development there will be. If you have all of this capacity at other relatively close airports then a new airport is likely to be an economic burden rather than an asset.

The way we look at economic development here is "how can we better use the infrastructure we already have" to better support shipping, passenger flights, etc.
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,551
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23
jordanb said:
Peatone is dead. The Suburbs lost that one. It's time to move on. O'Hare will be expanded.
I agree Peotone is dead. I never believed it had a life to begin with. The northwest 'burbs lost in their effort to avoid O'Hare expansion, the south 'burbs lost a chance to get a new economic engine (which would have failed miserably, anyway).

But the south suburbs keep plugging, grasping at straws. The south suburbs would be better served by being behind high-speed rail than a new airport.
 

NHPlanner

Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator
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9,860
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38
Having the Manchester Airport primarily located on my town has produced a wealth of economic development, and is spurring the majority of the economic development in the region. Too many businesses than I can count cite the airport as one of the major factors in their location decisions. We're currently gearing up for the development of about 1000 acres of land south of the airport once the state's Airport Access Road and our local collector roadway create the access for it (we're likely going to use a TIF district for the area).

See http://www.londonderry.org/images/airportcharrettepres2.pdf for more info about what the airport area here is going through.....here's the snapshot estimates:

Office space 1,000,000 square feet
Manufacturing 500,000
Warehousing 1,000,000
Hotel 120,000
Retail, Service, Restaurant 500,000
Convention Center 200,000
Education/Training 300,000
Total: 3,620,000 square feet
 

ChevyChaseDC

Cyburbian
Messages
190
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7
This is just from observation, but it appears that the extent to which an airport will be an economic engine for its surrounding community depends almost entirely upon its location and the regional economy...

I doubt that a south-side airport, let alone one 40 miles south of the Loop, will spur much economic development for its surrounding area. Look at Detroit Metro, which is about 21 miles west of downtown Detroit: even with its successful new NorthWest World Gateway terminal, the surrounding working-class city of Romulus is largely stagnant, and much of the area remains undeveloped.
 

GeogPlanner

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Chicago being a hub...I wonder how many people are actually coming into Chicago or passing through and how does a new or expanded airport bring in new people to Chicago? I go somewhere because of what it has to offer, busy airport or not. I think that there has to be a point where you reach maximum benefit and how close is Chicago in reality?

Next time I go to Chicago, I may fly into Mitchell instead...never really thought of it.
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
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1,551
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ChevyChaseDC said:
This is just from observation, but it appears that the extent to which an airport will be an economic engine for its surrounding community depends almost entirely upon its location and the regional economy...

I doubt that a south-side airport, let alone one 40 miles south of the Loop, will spur much economic development for its surrounding area. Look at Detroit Metro, which is about 21 miles west of downtown Detroit: even with its successful new NorthWest World Gateway terminal, the surrounding working-class city of Romulus is largely stagnant, and much of the area remains undeveloped.
I'm familiar with Detroit Metro, and nothing much has gone on around it, in terms of new residential or commercial development, for as long as I can remember. My grandparents lived in nearby Inkster for 50 years, and that town never saw any real economic benefit from being so close to the airport. Of course, knowing Inkster, there were lots of reasons for that.

The south suburban airport here in Chicago really has no future, but otherwise-smart people hold on to it.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
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This month's Planning magazine has an article of interest on this very topic.
 

Doitnow

Cyburbian
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500
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16
I just finished working on one stage for a Master Plan for an airport centred city.
1.We do assume that the airport( an international one at that) will generate enough jobs and related activities to spur development heavily around.
2.But of course the location of the airport has a poltical dimension to it. The announcement of the airport location and the governments plans led to a serious rise in the real estate prices in selected areas.
3. The construction of the airport and other large related projects will create jobs for numerous construction labour which will be sources mostly from the local settlements being affected by the airport.
4. Tertiary sectors have been projected as a major chunk of the local economy.

So theoretically the plans sound pretty good. In fact we found out that in the past two decades atleast five settlements of the ten being affected by the master plan regulation were showing decline in population growth. Thois would be stemmed by thenew economic initiative.
Calculating the size of the growth would be tough though. W canm only wait and watch and keep the plan as dynamic as possible to take in changes and unplanned events.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
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24,471
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49
From the Center for Urban Policy and the Evironment at IUPUI
http://urbancenter.iupui.edu/container.htm

Airport Development Takes Flight

By Sam Nunn

Current research at the Center is focused on investment strategies to enhance the quality of life in Indiana communities. This report is one result of that research. It is also part of an ongoing study in which Center analysts are comparing Central Indiana with eight other regions around the nation. Many regions consider aviation investments critical components of economic development strategies, and Indianapolis has ambitious airport construction plans.

Sam Nunn is the Research Director and Senior Scholar at the Center for Urban Policy and the Environment and a professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

May 2004, 12 pages, including graphics.
 
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