An often overlooked economic stimulator in the city of Washington is its regional airport.
Washington Aviation Manager Ray Frankenberg, who oversees the airport, gave a report to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission Wednesday.
“We are committed to growing our airport as the industries in our community continue to grow,” he said. “Within a month we hope to award construction on another set of hangars.”
Several industries in the region rely on the Washington Airport for business travel. Describing the airport as a gateway for businesses to the community, Frankenberg touted the airport’s importance to local industries.
“In the Washington area there are 33 of 68 regional industries that are frequent users of the airport to support their business,” he said. “The total number of employees who work for these companies is more than 4,000. Airports allow local small businesses and industries to stay in close contact with branch offices, clients and suppliers.”
Regional airports serve a multitude of purposes to a large number of organizations, Frankenberg said.
“Regional airports, such as ours, serve government, law enforcement and commerce,” he said. “They are an integral part of our national transportation system.”
Community outreach is another important function of the airport, he said.
“We often have children, classes and Boy Scout troops who come in for a tour of the airport,” Frankenberg said. “We find that plane owners are more than willing to show off their planes on short notice when a group comes through. We also have an annual fly-in, and we encourage pilots to come in and give kids their first airplane ride. We gave over 100 first rides at this event last year.”
Frankenberg believes funding for regional airports should be increased and that their value should not be overlooked.
“The value of regional airports should be measured by the growth of the business and commercial activity within a region and not a balance sheet,” he said. “Funding for regional airports should be increased to ensure that our communities have access to the rest of the world.”
The commission was impressed with Frankenberg’s message on the importance of regional airports.
Chairman Rudy Farber complimented the quality of the airport and Commissioner Joe Carmichael praised Frankenberg’s presentation.
“That is the best presentation that I have ever heard in regards to regional airports, and we thank you for that,” said Carmichael.