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Multi-beneficial Airport Planning Provides Long Term Economic Boosts

June 27th, 2018 by Chuck Smith

Airports are often seen as major transportation hubs, but one thing that people don’t realize is the economic impact an airport has on its community. In 2014, the Florida Department of Transportation determined that airports contribute to 170,107 jobs in Florida and generate an annual payroll of $8.1 billion. This results in an economic output of $36.3 billion annually. How does this relate to our Environmental Services Team at DRMP? We provide our airport clients with multi-beneficial airport planning services needed to contribute to long-term economic growth for the airport itself and the community that surrounds it, all while minimizing impacts to natural resources.

As an Environmental Scientist, my team and I play a key role in assisting airports plan their future growth. For example, one unique characteristic of Florida’s airports are the opportunities to support the private space industry. As this industry grows, supporting spacecraft and their vendors presents an opportunity for airports to consider incorporating vertical and horizontal take-off facilities into their master plans. Planning will become crucial in this case because the airports will need to upgrade their facilities, such as longer runways to handle spacecraft, which will also assist the airport in supporting larger commercial aircraft.

No matter what facilities are essential for an airport’s growth, the applicable licensing and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents are required before a planned project can even takeoff. An experienced Environmental Services team is critical in the acquisition of these documents. DRMP’s Environmental Services Team has extensive experience handling and preparing NEPA documents for clients to determine how the growth of an airport will affect the public, wildlife, wetlands and other significant natural resources.

Another common unique characteristic of airports in Florida is that some feature seaplane traffic, which brings in unique benefits as well as unique obstacles. Proper planning is crucial to provide incoming seaplanes with sufficient amenities such as dock and ramp spaces. If the ramp and docking facilities areas are located conveniently to restaurants and shopping attractions, positive economic growth will result in the surrounding community. These unique planes also require access to fueling and maintenance facilities, which will attract more seaplanes to the region; therefore, boosting the local economy in support of these activities. All of these benefits arise solely from a properly planned airport.

If there is one thing I’ve learned in my 16 years of professional experience as an Environmental Scientist, it’s that every airport has unique characteristics and capabilities, and with proper planning can significantly benefit the economy of the community and region. Our Environmental Services Team at DRMP can bring a broad range of knowledge to support any airport, no matter their size and goals, determine where growth would be the least impactful and the most beneficial to the airport, its tenants and surrounding community.

Chuck Smith, PWS is a Senior Environmental Scientist in DRMP's Orlando, Fla. office.


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