Airport is a key cog in local economy
The Grand Junction Regional Airport pumps about $380 million a year into the Grand Valley’s economy, state officials say.
A Colorado Division of Aeronautics study of the economic impacts each of the state’s 13 commercial, 10 general aviation and 50 county airports have on Colorado’s economy shows airports create nearly 266,000 jobs, pay those workers more than $12.6 billion a year and bring nearly $37 billion in economic activity to the state. The Colorado Department of Transportation agency completes the study every five years.
Locally, the Grand Junction airport and those who directly do business there have created 2,871 jobs and meet annual payrolls of nearly $131 million, according to the study released earlier this year.
While about 65 percent of all commercial travelers last year went through Denver International Airport, making it by far the largest airport economic engine in the state, Grand Junction came in fourth statewide, behind Colorado Springs and Montrose, the study says.
While the economic impacts airports have contributed are up from when the division last studied it in 2008, they are not as good as they would be if not for the recent recession, said David Gordon, division director.
“We’ve had a downturn in the economy, as everybody knows, and that has had an effect more on general aviation than it has had on commercial,” Gordon said. “The economists also say that the dollars spent by business travelers is down and the leisure traveler is down. People just aren’t spending as much for leisure and business travel as they used to.”
According to the study, the Grand Junction facility had more than 219,000 people boarding commercial airplanes last year, less than half of whom were visitors to the Grand Valley. More importantly, those folks spent about $53 million at hotels, restaurants and other stores around the region, the study says.
At the time, general aviation visitors — people coming in smaller, private planes — amounted to about 75,000 people who spent about $20 million here.