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Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport brings $685M to local economy

January 19, 2011

The Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport helped generate $685 million in economic benefits last year, and the airport supports more than 4,000 jobs in the region. That’s according to a new study from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, which looks at how the airport contributes to the local economy.

The study examined the direct spending from both on-airport activity and air visitors’ activity off the airport in fiscal year 2010. That summed up to $378.5 million. When added together with the successive rounds of re-spending that money, the total came out to $685 million for the fiscal year.

“A well-functioning airport serves as a portal that welcomes commerce and visitors into the region,” says Research Professor Lee McPheters, who headed up the study on behalf of the L. William Seidman Research Institute at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Compared to just two years ago, visitor spending from travelers arriving at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is up by more than 80 percent. These air visitors alone spent more than $68 million last year, and that created more than 1,000 local jobs.”

In his breakdown, McPheters describes how the airport truly benefits not only the rapidly growing East Valley area, but also Maricopa and Pinal counties overall. Here are some specific details:

• Forty-four employers and 1,145 jobs are at the airport.

• About 212,000 visitors arrived at the airport in fiscal year 2010.

• Air visitors spent $68.9 million off the airport in the fiscal year, supporting 1,024 jobs.

• Capital improvement and construction projects at the airport were valued at $36.4 million and created employment for 259 workers in fiscal year 2010.

The numbers are especially impressive when you consider that on-airport economic activity increased 121 percent and off-airport spending went up 86 percent from fiscal year 2008 at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. During the same time period, on-airport employment rose 45 percent, and off-airport visitor-related jobs went up 94 percent. All of this happened during one of the worst times recorded in Arizona’s economic history.