We are encouraged by the increased attention placed on developing land around Wichita’s airports.
It’s a strategy that has the ability to create jobs, grow our economy, generate revenue for the airports and strengthen our position as the Air Capital of the World.
Victor White, director of airports for the Wichita Airport Authority, and his staff have taken a more active role in the marketing of our airports. Their efforts supplement the work of the Greater Wichita Partnership, a public-private organization the promotes economic development.
We have plenty of room for growth around Wichita Eisenhower National Airport and Col. James Jabara Airport.
Eisenhower has 474 acres of undeveloped land, of which 121 acres have direct access to runways. Jabara has 331 acres of undeveloped land, of which 97 acres have runway access.
Wichita has already been successful at leveraging its airports, most notably with Textron Aviation Cessna and Bombardier at Eisenhower. Actually, there are 60 aviation-related businesses at Eisenhower, which include businesses that maintain, repair and overhaul aircraft, those that manufacture aircraft and those that supply flight-related services.
Andrew Nave, executive vice president of economic development for the Greater Wichita Partnership, said businesses that provide maintenance, repair and overhaul services - known in the industry as MRO - are prime candidates for recruitment to Wichita and its airports. That industry is expected to grow 4.4 percent a year in North America through 2025, according to a forecast by the International Air Transport Association.
A multifaceted approach is being put in place to attract new business to our airports. It includes sending staff to trade shows, developing a new website to attract the attention of developers and site selectors, and hiring a real estate broker to market the property.
The exposure at trade shows is already paying dividends. A group that Wichita representatives met with at the MRO Americas trade show in Florida in April is expected to visit late this month, Nave told Eagle/Kansas.com reporter Jerry Siebenmark for a story this month.
The Airport Authority will seek proposals from brokers who would market the airport properties. White hopes to have a broker selected by fall.
Airports are key to the success of communities in many ways. Community leaders knew that when they made the commitment to build a new Eisenhower National Airport.
That decision pays dividends every time a traveler steps out of a jet bridge to see a clean, modern and well-appointed terminal. If that person is new to our community, the airport makes the first impression we want. If that traveler lives here or has been here before, it provides positive reinforcement that Wichita is a city moving forward.
We’re glad that airport and economic development leaders are now moving forward with increased efforts to develop land around our airports. It’s a decision that makes sense.
We look forward to the dividends their work will pay.