Flying into the future: Economic study highlights airport outlook

A plane flies over the Lewistown Airport recently. Many of the buildings shown in this aerial photo are those of airport tenants.

Photo courtesy of Pete Smith

By: 
JENNY GESSAMAN
Reporter

 

A study contracted by the Montana Department of Transportation credits the Lewistown Municipal Airport with having more than $23 million of direct economic impact on the Lewistown area.

The study states the airport has $23,462,000 of on-airport economic impact. Steven Landau is vice president of the Economic Development Research Group headquartered in Boston, Mass., that conducted part of the study. He broke the number’s phrasing down, explaining it meant economic impacts coming from on-airport businesses and jobs.

Airport Manager Jerry Moline said the airport hosted a variety of businesses as tenants on its 2,000 acres, including auto body shops, government departments and the Nexus Treatment Center. He added it also hosted a growing number aircraft: In the past year, the 88 aircraft were based at the airport, compared to 24 in 2002.

For Lewistown Municipal Airport Board Chairman Steve Mosby, all of this means the airport is on track.

“As a general aviation airport, Lewistown has, for the last 10 or 12 years, been bucking the trend because it’s been growing a little bit,” he said.

Mosby pointed out the airport consistently sees people aiming to become pilots, or to improve their license rating. He also mentioned the new hangar being created from the airport’s former bus barn as another example of growth.

“We just want to keep that trend going,” he said.

The study also attributed $455,000 in construction impacts and $2.5 million in visitor spending as direct economic impacts from Lewistown’s airport.

Tim Conway, MDT airport/airways bureau chief, said the 77 of the states airports were surveyed, including 13 commercial aviation and 64 general aviation sites.

Landau said that although his group ran the information through economic models, it was important to remember where that information came from.

“It’s important to know that every number we used was at least based on fieldwork,” he said, giving an example. “If a tenant reported jobs but no payroll, at least had the number of jobs from the source.”

Landau clarified the difference between the airport’s reported direct impacts and its total impacts.

“I think, if you’re looking at direct impacts, that the study does report what’s going on in Lewistown,” he said. “However, if you’re looking at the multipliers and the total impacts, then you’re saying this is the effect of Lewistown Municipal Airport on the state of Montana.”

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