Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell this month announced the investment of close to $3 million for airport improvements in the state.
While some states are responding to budget shortfalls this year by considering deep cuts in their transportation funding, Pennsylvania is making investments in its air transportation infrastructure to promote economic growth. According to a press release from the governor’s office, nearly 290,000 people are employed in the aviation field statewide, representing about 5 percent of the workforce.
“Airports are important assets that can attract new business and create jobs,” Rendell said. “We are making the smart investments necessary to increase economic vitality and facilitate the more than $12 billion in state revenue the aviation industry yields each year. By investing in our aviation assets we can help sustain our communities and retain jobs across Pennsylvania.”
The state grants, funded by jet fuel taxes, leverage $904,800 in local matching funds and will go toward facility maintenance and improving safety at 16 airports, including a number of projects at general aviation airports.
“In tough economic times, it is more important than ever to create jobs and stimulate local economies with investments in airports,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. “Pennsylvania has taken the lead on this issue and is making smart investments to create jobs and help business.”
Rendell announced earlier this year that 24 airports would receive a total of $6.6 million in federal and state funds. Airports in the state have also been awarded federal grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which sets aside $1.1 billion for airport grants nationwide in addition to regularly scheduled federal funding. AOPA worked with governors, aviation directors, and other transportation officials to communicate the importance of general aviation so that states would identify, organize, and present GA airport projects that would qualify for infrastructure funding through the stimulus plan.
Each year, federal, state, and local governments invest in aviation infrastructure through grants for airport improvements. Much of that money goes toward commercial-service airports, but the grants also fund much-needed projects at airports in communities the airlines don’t reach.