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Study shows S.C. airports contribute $16.3 billion to state economy

Staff Report //March 5, 2018//

Study shows S.C. airports contribute $16.3 billion to state economy

Staff Report //March 5, 2018//

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify economic impact numbers throughout.

Last year, airports in the state made a collective economic impact of $16.3 billion on the state and local economies, according to the S.C. Aeronautics Commission’s latest report (.pdf).

“We believe this study strongly supports the important contribution that airports make to our economy,” commission Executive Director James Stephens said in a news release. “Overall, the 57 airports in our system contribute $16.3 billion in annual economic activity and support almost 123,000 jobs.”

South Carolina has six commercial airports, including Columbia Metropolitan Airport. The report showed CAE’s total employment impact, including direct employment and indirect or induced employment, at 6,642, with an annual cumulative payroll of $202 million. Annual direct and indirect spending impact was $546 million, and the airport's overall economic impact reached $748 million.

Jim Hamilton – L.B. Owens Airport in Columbia is one of the 51 general aviation airports in the state. The report showed its direct and indirect employment at 116, with a total payroll of $4 million. Spending was a cumulative $12 million with an overall direct and indirect economic impact of $16 million.

Overall, the state airport system — including Boeing South Carolina — supports an estimated 122,759 jobs with a total payroll of $4.8 billion. Spending impact is estimated at $11.5 billion, with a total direct and indirect economic impact of $16.3 billion.

The report also included recommendations to enhance airport standards and enable growth potential, including repaving runways or taxiways and extending runways to allow for larger corporate jet landings. Infrastructure improvements are also needed, the commission said, calling on the S.C. Legislature to pass pending legislation to increase aviation funding.