Analysis details airport’s impact

KATHRYN BASSETT kbassett@kpcmedia.com

AUBURN — The DeKalb County Airport and associated activity generated $24.4 million in economic activity in 2019, according to an economic impact analysis conducted by the Purdue University Fort Wayne Community Research Institute.

Airport representative Randy Fox reviewed highlights of the analysis at Monday’s DeKalb County Council meeting.

Economic activity includes spending of businesses, such as ground-handling services, food vendors, airport management, operations staff and businesses located at the airport, the report indicated.

The analysis found 162 people had jobs supported by airport or related operations, with annual payroll totaling $5.5 million.

In addition to direct employment, payroll and economic output, the airport also generates significant indirect and induced impacts that generate additional economic activity in the region, the analysis found.

“Visitors who use (the airport) to access the region generate significant employment, payroll and economic impacts by staying in hotels, eating and drinking in local restaurants, purchasing goods and services, and enjoying the wide range of entertainment amenities that region has to offer,” the analysis said.

“ … visitor spending enabled by (the airport) resulted in 10 jobs, $208,000 in payroll and $602,000 in total economic output for DeKalb County.”

Also during his report to the council and DeKalb County Commissioners Monday, Fox said the DeKalb County Airport Authority has voted to sell a piece of property that was purchased many years ago in anticipation of a crosswind runway. However, the airport no longer is mandated to plan for that crosswind runway and instead has been moving toward a longer runway, Fox explained.

Fox said the airport anticipates having a final draft of project to extend C.R. 62 to C.R. 31 for review in the coming months. The airport authority will be seeking input from the commissioners and DeKalb County Highway Department during the review process.

The airport has started a process of replacing old lighting in the hangars with new LED lighting. Initial numbers show the airport may see savings of about 50 percent in electricity costs in locations where the lights are replaced, Fox said.