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Benefits of Airport Upgrade Could Spill Into Local Economy
(News Article from The Times-Tribune, Jeff Sonderman - Staff Writer, May 21, 2006)

Theres no doubt the airports new terminal will be a nice upgrade for passengers and airlines, but its effects may reach even further into the community.

The state-of-the-art terminal should help economic developers sell the region, Airport Director Barry Centini said.

I think its going to have a dramatic effect, Mr. Centini said. The Airport is going to be a help to those people to bring in businesses.

Along with labor supply, highways and tax breaks, air service ranks in the top-10 criteria of any company looking for a new location, said Jim Cummings, president of the economic development partnership Penn's Northeast.

The first benefit is the modern appearance of the terminal. It should impress business developers as they visit the region, Mr. Cummings said.

You will see a lot of jaws dropping when these people walk into the new terminal, he said. You never get a second chance to make a first impression we finally have a good first impression.

In the end, though, the business traveler will want more than just a nice building. The real goal is flights to more destinations at cheaper fares, Mr. Cummings said.

The new terminal may help attract airlines. It certainly has more space and boarding gates to accommodate them, and if more passengers use the improved facility, the airlines may follow.

In any community, the airport and business community are always linked, said Robert Rockmaker, executive secretary of the Allentown-based Aviation Council of Pennsylvania, which represents airports and other aviation organizations.

If you want to measure the economic pulse of your community, measure the pulse of your airport, Mr. Rockmaker said.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airports direct spending and passenger spending brings about $139 million to the local economy annually and supports more than 3,600 jobs, a study by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Aviation showed.

Beyond business, the terminal should be a nice ego boost for the whole community.

The angular, modern design of the terminal will be a regional landmark that joins others in shaping the identity of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Mr. Cummings said.

Now we have the airport, plus the (Wachovia) arena, plus Montage Mountain, Mr. Cummings said. We have a lot of cool stuff now. When you view then all together and you make an overall impression, then people start to believe in you.