The Balanced Development Approach: Key Takeaways (Part 4)

Written by Jenny Watts, C.M.

A balanced approach to airport development centers around four themes—planning, promotion, funding, and timing. Together, these four considerations will prepare an airport sponsor to take on the task of transforming their vision into reality—their airfield of dreams. When considering taking an airport to the next level of development, key takeaways include the following:  

  • Airport development should focus on the best opportunities for mutual benefits for the airport, community, and interested business entities. 
  • Be sure to have a plan (or multiple plans). Planning precedes action.
  • Invest in strategic, business, and/or marketing plans that will highlight what your airport offers today and what you aspire to offer in the future. Consider adding a dedicated marketing and/or community relations professional to assist in promoting and attracting new business. 
  • Educate internal and external stakeholders on airport-related development projects early to instill a sense of ownership and buy-in.
  • Approach business opportunities on and around the airport optimistically but also cautiously. Be wary of unvetted business propositions, especially those that pressure immediate action or seem too good to be true. There are plenty of opportunities—be patient and remember the ultimate vision.
  • Begin the discussion on funding sources early with internal officials and government agencies. If traditional Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding is not available or justifiable, consider alternative funding sources, such as bonds or private-public partnerships.
  • Understand the timing of the entire process, from vision to grand opening—it will never happen as fast as one imagines or a developer promises. Traditional or alternative funding can get an airport where it wants to go, but be prepared for the journey either way.       

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Jenny Watts