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"Editorial: Efforts to develop airport land will pay off"


 
Monday, June 19, 2017

Editorial
Efforts to develop airport land will pay off
By The Eagle Editorial Board
The Wichita (KS) Eagle


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.
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