FAIRBORN — The Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport and the Greene County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) attracts businesses that would not otherwise come to the county, officials said Dec. 11.
The county airport, located in Xenia and chartered in 1968 by Gov. Jim Rhodes, has seen significant improvements in the last two decades.
In 2005, the runway was extended to 4,500 feet and the taxiways were upgraded, Fred Pumroy, Greene County Airport Authority Board member, told local leaders during the Second Annual Developer’s Breakfast. In 2016, the airport saw more changes, including resurfacing the runway, adding a 75,000 square-foot ramp and building new corporate box hangars. In 2018, the runway was extended to 5,000 feet to be able to bring in midsize jets. Approximately 70 aircraft are parked at the airport, 60 of which are in hangars.
Pumroy said the vision of the airport is to continue helping grow the local economy and provide opportunities for community members of all ages to engage in aviation.
Its economic impact, he said, includes 130 jobs and $7 million in revenue, while attracting additional travelers and businesses each year. Among ways the airport functions as a public asset, it supports STEM education and youth programs — including the Greene County Career Center Take Flight Initiative, Young Eagles, and Air Camp.
Future projects include connecting to public water and sewer, exploring joint use of the new fire station, renovating the terminal building and adding a training area, expanding the east ramp and building a permanent wildlife fence.
According to Kathleen Wright, CVB executive director, tourism generated more than $766 million of economic impact in Greene County in 2017, including $47 million in state and local taxes.
“That is both direct and indirect,” Wright said. “Tourism doesn’t just affect our hospitality partners; it trickles down.”
The county had a sales volume of $505.6 million in 2017, a sales growth of 15.6 percent from two years prior, putting it significantly above the state’s growth (3.5 percent) and the Southwest Ohio region’s growth (3.8 percent). Visitor spending brought in $766.1 million in 2017.
“In the absence of the state and local taxes generated by tourism, each Ohio household would need to pay an additional $725 to maintain the current level of government services,” she said.
Wright also spoke of growth in the county — evident by the four hotels (401 rooms) built in the last 18 months, and the biggest events that continue to come to the area each year — Hamvention, Air Force Marathon, soccer tournaments, car shows, and military and government events.
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