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Georgia Says Airports Mean Business

June 27, 2012

The state of Georgia is promoting a new tagline – “Georgia Airports Mean Business” – in a coordinated effort to raise visibility for the airports that pairs a 2011 Georgia Statewide Airport Economic Impact Study with a YouTube video and DVD.

“Those of us in aviation, whether we’re pilots or on the infrastructure side, we get it,” said Carol Comer, director of intermodal transportation (aviation, rail, and waterway) for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). “The harder sell is for the family in a rural area who may never have been on an airliner,” much less a general aviation airplane.

In 1992, the economic value of Georgia’s airports was $16.8 billion, according to the 2011 report. Since then, the economic impact has grown to $62.6 billion, with more than 471,000 jobs and $136.9 million in direct aviation-related tax revenue to the state.

The study also found that when businesses choose a new location, airport access was among the top 10 requirements.

To show residents the value of Georgia’s 104 public-owned, public-use airports, the YouTube video tells a succinct story: Aviation is “important to business, and business brings jobs,” said Comer. With its many missions, business aviation was a common denominator to show how airports touch the lives of Georgia residents every day.

Before it started work on the project, GDOT reached out to national, state and local aviation groups to form an advisory committee of stakeholders, a level of cooperation long sustained by the state, said NBAA Southeast Regional Representative Harry Houckes.

The video producers asked another committee member – the Georgia Business Aviation Association – to show the diversity of business aviation at Georgia’s large and small airports, said its president, Dave Small, who also is the flight operations administrator at Cox Enterprises. With a company Hawker 800X/P in the background, Cox Enterprise’s CEO Jimmy Hays explains how the company airplanes made it possible to install new file servers around the nation without disrupting the service to the media company’s customers.

The video also spotlights Thomasville-based Flower Foods, population 18,413, where company CEO George Deese explains how an airplane is a tool, just like one of the company’s ovens. Closer to Atlanta, an official in the one-time textile mill city of Thomaston said that improvements to its airport attracted two new employers – a Solo Cup production facility and a Quad/Graphics printing plant.

With limited improvement funds, selecting projects that enhance an airport’s capabilities and make it more attractive to business is important, said Comer. After extending the runway to 6,005 feet in Douglas, a city official said in the video, TRW upgraded its small facility there to a plant that casts parts for aviation.