Sunday, October 24, 1999

Study: Airport driving growth


Expansion would make impact $6.4B

BY PATRICK CROWLEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HEBRON — A planned airport expansion that includes construction of a new runway will pump billions of dollars into Northern Kentucky's economy and create thousands of new jobs, according to a new study.

        Provided the federal government approves construction of the new north/south runway next year, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Inter national Airport will have a $6.4 billion impact on the region and be responsible for creating 100,000 jobs.

        “The airport is the single biggest economic driver in Northern Kentucky and this whole region,” said Mike Mangeot, chairman of Century Construction, an Erlanger construction company that em ploys about 100 people.

        “Say what you will about all the other things that have happened here to help the economy,” Mr. Mangeot said. “Most of the reason we are doing so well here is because of the airport.”

        The jobs created because of airport expansion will be people working at the airport as well as at companies and businesses that benefit from the airport, such as hotels, restaurants, retailers, home builders and manufacturers, plus offices that have moved here because of the airport.

        The $6.4 billion comes from investment, payroll and other spending from companies at the airport, those that do business with the airport and airlines and those that have moved or expanded here because of the airport's growth and its high number of direct and international flights, airport officials said.

        Mr. Mangeot was among the 50 or so members of the Cov ington Business Council who attended a presentation last week on the airport's economic impact on the area.

        The study was conducted by The Center For Economic Education at the University of Cincinnati and paid for by the University of Cincinnati, said Ted Bushelman, spokesman for the Kenton County Airport Board, which operates the airport.

        The study showed that in 1998, the airport had a $3.9 billion impact on the local economy and was responsible for 66,500 direct and indirect jobs, Mr. Bushelman said.

        About 12,000 people now work at the airport, he said.

        “Those numbers show just how much we are growing and contributing to the economy, and that's something we are very proud of,” Mr. Bushelman said.

        The airport has asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to build a new north/south runway and extend an existing east/west runway. If approved, the new runway would open in 2004 and spur more growth, including construction of new terminals and roads at the airport and the development of nearby industrial property. But the growth will also result in demolition of more than 200 homes and a Boone County church and send more jets over Northern Kentucky and Hamilton County neighborhoods.

        “I know they want to grow, I just wish they'd quit flying so many planes over my house,” said Lyman Oliver of Florence, a retired U.S. Coast Guard officer who lives in the Boone Aire subdivision south of the airport. He attended one of two workshops on the airport's growth and noise reduction plans the airport board held last week in Burlington and Delhi Township.

        Residents and Boone County officials also have expressed concern about the potential of night flights.

        But airport officials say planes are using quieter engines and that whenever possible jets take routes over areas such as the Ohio River and Interstate 75 rather than homes.

        The construction and expansion of runways are needed to accommodate a growing number of flights — mainly from the Delta Air Lines and Comair hubs — and to cut down on delays, said Chad Everett, an airport board planner.

        Because of the projected growth the airport has altered its 20-year master construction plan to include:

        • Construction of a 1,500-space parking garage near Delta's Terminal 3, expected to open next year.

        • Construction of a larger exit ramp from I-275 into the airport's main entrance.

        • Construction of two new terminals and the addition of 34 new gates.

        • The relocation of several roads near the airport, including Limaburg Road, Conner Drive and Ky. 20.

       



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