Washington Business Winter 2018 | Washington Business - Page 50

business backgrounder | economy Ready for Takeoff Rural airports power the economy of small towns and support businesses in every corner of Washington. Brian Mittge Many of the state’s 137 public-use airports are in rural Washington. From agriculture to tourism, business travel to firefighting, rural airports play an important role in their communities. They were among the topics of discussion at AWB’s Rural Jobs Summit Oct. 23-24. The Friday Harbor Airport in the San Juan Islands. At A Glance According to WSDOT’s 2012 Aviation Economic Impact Study, Washington’s airports lead to 248,500 jobs, $15.3 billion in wages, and $50.9 billion in total economic activity. 97 percent of gross business income in Washington is within 10 miles of an airport, and 70 percent is within five miles of an airport. 50 association of washington business In every corner of Wa s h i n g t o n , i n e ve n t h e smallest and most remote rural communities, there are airports and air strips. — Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake In fact, Washington has 137 public use airports in 37 of the state’s 39 counties. They are hubs for business, recreation, travel, rapid medical care and much more. These airports are an economic mainstay of their communities, yet many people rarely notice or think about them. That’s one reason the organizers of AWB’s Rural Jobs Summit this fall scheduled time for a discussion on rural airports and their value to communities large and small. One of the panelists, Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, knows firsthand the value of aviation to rural economies and communities. Through a 40-year career in flying, he did crop-dusting, corporate piloting, flight instruction and more. “You build a mile of highway and you can go one mile. You can build one mile of runway and go anywhere in the world.”