By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Whether providing justifications for grants for airport upgrades or attempting to attract new development, having accurate and timely information about the economic impact of an airport is vital. The Small Airport Economic Estimator enables users to do just that by providing a set of vital economic data at the click of a mouse.
The web tool was developed by researchers at theTexas A&M Transportation Institute under a research project that was sponsored by TxDOT.
“We have assisted TxDOT in preparing a statewide economic impact study in the past,” said Senior Research Scientist Jeff Borowiec, who supervised the project. “But the ability to provide updated or more precise economic impact values to airport sponsors and other stakeholders was needed. For example, there could have been changes in an airport’s activity levels since the last statewide study was performed.”
The research team built the model by using various economic inputs including visitor spending data from the Texas Governor’s Office, Terminal Area Forecast data from the Federal Aviation Administration and the latest available data from the recently completed statewide economic impact study of Texas airports.
The web tool takes the model and provides an online interface for users to calculate the economic impact of the airport of their choice. The user has the option to calculate using the default data or provide new inputs based on their knowledge of current conditions.
- The web tool takes these inputs and generates summary outputs for three different types of activity:
- Airport activity—employment or expenses directly related to the functioning of the airport.
- Visitor activity—the impact of visitor spending on the region.
- Tenant/business activity—employment or expenses related to any tenants or businesses that are located on the airport.
“Building an estimator tool that can be tailored to each airport provides more precise estimates of that airport’s impact,” said Borowiec. “We also found that economic conditions vary widely across the state, which makes the use of local multipliers and input data key to providing accurate results.”
“The Small Airport Economic Estimator tool provides an easy-to-use resource for airport managers, planners and local officials,” said TxDOT Aviation Division Director of Planning Jim Halley. “As economic conditions change and the airport develops, it provides up-to-date economic impact numbers that can support grant applications and local funding matches, as well as attract new development. In addition, the Estimator can estimate economic impacts that may be realized if certain improvements are made that increase airport activity.”
The Small Airport Economic Estimator tool may be viewed at: https://txeconomicapproach.org/