NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — The aviation sector of North Carolina’s Department of Transportation has released its 2021 report showing how much airports in North Carolina are putting back into the economy.
“We like to say that a mile of highway will take you a mile down the road but a mile of runway can take you around the world,” said Andrew Shorter, airport director for the Coastal Carolina Regional Airport in New Bern.
That mile of runway is providing nearly half a billion dollars to the New Bern economy. Shorter said airports in North Carolina provided over $60 billion in economic output and over 350,000 jobs in the state.
“So the interesting thing about that is almost a half a billion-dollar annual economic impact,” Shorter said. “That is really cost-free to the citizens of the area. We do not take any funding from local municipalities through any like of taxes.
“We are what the FAA considers to be self-sufficient so all of the money we spend here is made here.”
Shorter said these airports operate as what they consider to be a form of small business. He said that airports across the state have put billions into the economy, which boosts the state as a whole.
“The trickle-down is the key point in that and again, the airport seems like a small regional airport but its tentacles are very long and the impact throughout the region,” said Shorter.
Airports have provided nearly half a million jobs as well with New Bern’s providing around 2,700 jobs. These positions come from the airports themselves as well as businesses around them that are operating as a result of the travel coming in.
“The 2,700 comes from both indirect and induced so indirect would be someone who lands here, gets a rental car and then goes to the gas station and has to fill up with gas, goes to the hotel, stays at the hotel,” said Shorter.
Shorter said that the airport has now seen around 50% of their commercial traffic come back. He hopes they will continue to move forward and make positive impacts in Eastern North Carolina as a whole.