Impact of airport tops $54M

A traveler walks into the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport terminal in this undated file photo.

A traveler walks into the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport terminal in this undated file photo.

ALBANY, Ga. — A new report out by the Georgia Department of Transportation says that Albany’s Southwest Georgia Regional Airport is responsible for a $54.5 million impact on the local economy.

The report also notes the 548 jobs associated with the airport and the $17.1 million payroll those jobs create.

Output from visitors is believed to top $6.3 million, while the “on-airport” impact is believed to be around $31.9 million.

The report is part of a recent GDOT assessment of airports around the state.

The Southwest Georgia Regional Airport is the state’s second-largest cargo airport, second only to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. UPS has a regional hub at the Albany airport.

Statewide, the aviation industry contributes $62.6 billion into the state and federal economy, employing more than 471,000 people with a payroll of more than $17.8 billion.

According to GDOT officials, Georgia’s 104 public airports generate a substantial amount of funding for state coffers, creating roughly $137 million in aviation-related tax revenue for the state.

Comparing the economic impact of airports in the region found that Columbus tops the region with a $70 million impact with 622 jobs connected with the aviation industry. Valdosta sat at $25.1 million with 260 jobs and Tifton at $1.6 million impact and 18 jobs.

A survey of Georgia companies indicated access to an airport among the top 10 criteria for business location decisions. The state of Georgia’s annual investment of approximately $2 million in airports is among the lowest of any southeastern state, and far from the $20 million or more invested by the top 10 states in the country on their aviation programs, GDOT officials say.

Currently, Southwest Georgia Regional Airport officials are in the midst of a $15 million airport overhaul that includes the construction of a new terminal and airport apron and parking improvements.