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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Measuring and Understanding the Relationship Between Air Service and Regional Economic Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26682.
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Page 1
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Measuring and Understanding the Relationship Between Air Service and Regional Economic Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26682.
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Page 2
Page 3
Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Measuring and Understanding the Relationship Between Air Service and Regional Economic Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26682.
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Page 3

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

1 Summary This Guide provides airports and major regional stakeholders concerned with economic development with the information and tools necessary to understand and communicate the nexus between air service and regional employment. Understanding that connection and being able to relate it to the region that the airport serves will better enable airports and regional stakeholders to build support for air service initiatives and regional development goals that benefit the entire community. Airports have traditionally relied on economic impact evaluations to measure their contributions to the local economy. Those assessments suffer from a critical shortcoming: They generally do not capture how air service facilitates economic activity “beyond the fence.” That is, airport economic impact studies may accurately measure the activity that occurs on airport properties or is tied directly to airport operations (e.g., off-site parking, hotels that accommodate airline crew who overnight in a location), but they do not capture how air service supports business and employment throughout the region. Consequently, traditional airport economic impact assessments tell only a portion of the story. Airports facilitate economic activity in many industry sectors, and the contribution that air service makes to regional economic activity in those areas can be better understood and communicated. This Guide is intended to help the airports community move away from the “inside baseball” traditional economic impact analyses that focus only on employment and activity associated with aviation to include and reflect the broader effects that aviation contributes to the geographic regions that they serve. Organization of the Guide This Guide is organized into five chapters and five appendices, including a list of references (bibliography). Chapter 1 provides an overview of changes in air service and economic development over the recent past. This material serves as background or a “primer” to the major external shocks that have profoundly affected both the aviation industry and the U.S. economy within the last two decades. It also describes the research-driven connections between air service and regional economic activity, highlighting the employment effects in different industry sectors that have notable reliance or dependence on air transportation includes a discussion of the concept of “causality”: whether changes in air service lead to or cause changes in regional employment or vice versa. It highlights recent research that shows how, on a regional or metropolitan basis, improvements in commercial air service have led to increases in employment and economic activity, especially in certain industry sectors. Air service indeed facilitates economic activity, not just employment on airport properties or in the hospitality (tourism) industries. Chapter 2 summarizes the key data elements needed to describe changes in air service and economic activity and sources of those data. It includes information on how to measure, assess, and characterize the strengths of regional economies. The chapter includes an overview of the data and tools used by researchers to measure changes in air service, socioeconomic conditions, and the extent to which different industry sectors rely on air service to generate their final products or services sold to consumers or other industries. It also includes information on the sources of those data. Finally, the chapter discusses how connectivity is gauged and how changes in connectivity can affect economic activity.

2 Chapter 3 introduces the 14 case studies that illustrate differences in how air service and economic activity have changed. To help the widest array of airport regions find situations that are most comparable to their own, the case studies reflect all airport hub sizes, different service offerings and reflect regional economies that vary greatly in underlying strengths. This includes two case studies that focus on air cargo operations. The chapter includes summary observations from the case studies. Chapter 4 concerns engaging with different regional stakeholder organizations to ensure that they understand how air service contributes to the local economy. Many of those organizations are oriented toward economic development efforts but may not understand how critical air service may be for particular industry sectors. The chapter highlights the different types of regional organizations along with their goals, so that airports can better understand that those organizations’ goals and performance metrics may complement but not be the same as an airport authority’s goals related to economic activity. Chapter 5 provides guidance on how to better “tell the story” of how air service contributes to regional economic development in ways that will be more meaningful to different audiences. It offers suggestions on the most important information to use, tips on how to relate economic concepts to audiences of different interests, and guidance for using appropriate graphics for different situations. The chapter also includes a template for airports to consider or adapt to present information to audiences. It broadly follows the topics included in the case studies. The five appendices cover: – A glossary of key air service and socioeconomic terms and data elements; – The structure of the U.S. national economy as organized by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS); – References; – A simplified explanation of the difference between Gross National Product and Economic Output; and – A compilation of the short versions of the 14 case studies. These average two pages in length. The collection of the complete case studies (averaging about 15 pages each) is available in a separate document, “Compilation of Case Studies,” that can be found on the National Academies Press website (www.nap.edu) by searching on ACRP Web-Only Document 53: Measuring and Understanding the Relationship Between Air Service and Regional Economic Development. The approach and methodology applied to this project is included in the Contractor’s Technical Report for readers with more interest in those matters (downloadable from ACRP WebResource 12). Guide Audience This Guide is intended for use by airports of all sizes and types with varying levels of resource availability that are interested in gaining an understanding of how air service contributes to economic activity “outside the fence” – that is, in industry sectors that are not immediately tied to airport and airline operations. Traditional economic impact studies that describe the contributions of airports to local economies do not typically incorporate employment effects that occur within the region, except to the extent that air service supports tourism and hospitality. That air service is a critical intermediate component of business operations in other industry sectors (such as information technology, finance and insurance, wholesaling, or advanced manufacturing) is not usually incorporated into these analyses. The Guide provides background information to help airports and regional stakeholders understand the nexus between air service and employment in various industry sectors. It includes direction for developing data on changes in air service and regional economic activity. It includes case studies on the experiences of

3 different airport regions that reflect a wide range of airport sizes, service offerings, and structures of regional economies. The Guide also includes information on how to better communicate these contributions to different audiences of stakeholders. The target audience for this Guide includes: Airport administrators, executives, and decision makers. Airport officials with responsibilities for communicating with regional stakeholder groups will find the information valuable to help them better understand how commercial air service facilitates economic development beyond the airport, communicate that to key stakeholders, and build broader community support for the airport and its air service development initiatives. Airport communications, public relations, and government–external affairs personnel. Airport professionals with responsibilities in the communications, public relations, or government–external affairs realms have frequent interactions with individuals and groups affected by changes in air service, including the public, business interests and major employers in the area, local governments, and elected officials. Municipal governments and agencies (e.g., elected officials, planning departments, and economic development agencies). Many airports are owned and operated by a city government or an airport authority that closely coordinates with local governments. In some cases, airport authority members are appointed by elected officials. Local governments have an interest in understanding the factors that contribute to local economic activity. Airports are not only critical components in and of themselves in terms of local economies and regional transportation networks but contribute to the region’s broader economic interests and competitiveness. Regional economic development organizations, the business community, and major employers. Large employers—such as universities, businesses in industry sectors that have a dependence on air transportation, and other local organizations—have a vested interest in the economic and social well-being of the community. These organizations may depend on air transportation to carry employees and move cargo and products to markets. But they may not have a clear understanding of how changes in air service affects their organization and stakeholders. Better understanding the synergies between air service and economic activity can help the broad range of regional stakeholders cooperate to achieve economic and social goals.

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Airport economic impact studies may accurately measure the activity that occurs on airport properties or is tied directly to airport operations (such as off-site parking and hotels that accommodate airline crew who overnight in a location), but they do not capture how air service supports business and employment throughout the region.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Web-Only Document 53: Measuring and Understanding the Relationship Between Air Service and Regional Economic Development provides airports and major regional stakeholders concerned with economic development with the information and tools necessary to understand and communicate the nexus between air service and regional employment.

The Web-Only Document is supplemental to ACRP WebResource 12: Air Service Development and Regional Economic Activity. Supplemental to the Web-Only Document is a Case Study Compilation with the full versions of the 14 case studies performed as part of the project.

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