Provo airport’s new commercial status might just make us all rich.
At least, according to Richard Florida, airports are major generators of wealth in cities. He specifically cites a couple of studies that reveal that the more passengers moving through a city’s airport, the more jobs and population growth that city experiences. Quoting one of those studies, he adds,
The study concludes that: “the evidence confirms the common view that good airline service is an important factor in urban economic development.”
Florida goes on to note that an airport’s most important role is to move people — as opposed to cargo — and that a good airport correlates with things like college grads, tech jobs, and creative class jobs.
All of this is good news for Provo and the city’s new airport. As a growing metro area, the airport should become increasingly integral to the county’s growth.
Looking down the road, it may also be useful to consider the role the Provo airport will play in the larger region. Right now, Salt Lake International is the Utah airport. But other places — most notably LA — have many airports within relatively close proximity. While those airports certainly create stiff competition between them, they also contribute to the growth of that region. And keep in mind that people in LA choose their airport based on ticket prices and schedule, not just geographical proximity. In other words, someone living near LAX might choose to fly out of Long Beach for economic or timing reasons.
The same thing could and should happen more frequently in Utah as people from more populous counties choose the Provo airport as it expands its offerings.
The idea is that the Provo airport ought to work toward becoming a significant regional hub, much like Long Beach or Ontario in LA. More flights are in the works and perhaps a larger longterm role is already the goal. But to make this happen, the airport (or associated airlines) also needs more marketing to put Provo on the radar of air travelers in surrounding cities and counties.
Ultimately, the point is that having two robust airports in northern Utah will benefit the entire state. The most immediate benefit is that travel will become easier and more flexible, but the broader result, returning to Richard Florida, should be a wealthier city.