An airport is like a highway. There is a cost to create a highway, and the road itself does not generate revenue, but because it is there, it draws business. It provides mobility and connectivity of people, goods and services.
Since 2010, when the Port of Kennewick commissioners voted unanimously to keep the airport open, Cadwell Labs has built a $2 million expansion, Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute has purchased land adjacent to the airport with plans to build one of the largest facilities in the Northwest, and BK Attorney Services has chosen to locate at Vista Field -- all providing family wage jobs.
Because of the vote to keep Vista Field, the Tri-Cities is able to host the start of a national all-women's air race in 2013, which will garner international attention and bring outside money into this economy.
Vista Field generates an estimated $735,100 a year in visitor spending and $1.5 million in direct and indirect labor income. Through aircraft excise taxes, fuel taxes, and other taxes, $76,400 is paid by the users, which feeds back to the cities, counties, special districts and state.
With the uncertainty of Vista Field's future removed, more businesses would consider expanding or locating in Kennewick. Who wants to invest several million dollars in a business if there is continuous talk of the airport shutting down in two or three years?
The commissioners wisely voted to keep Vista Field open. An excellent master plan is in place. Now let's move forward.
-- MARJY LEGGETT, Pasco