Economic impact study finds Angelina County airport boosting regional growth

Economic impact study finds Angelina County airport boosting regional growth

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The Texas Department of Transportation has released its Texas Aviation Economic Impact study, and the results revealed Angelina County’s airport is contributing to the region’s growth.

The Texas Aviation Economic Impact study is released every seven years. What makes Angelina County Airport unique is the fact that its economic impact nearly quadrupled between 2011 and 2018. The airport has an output of just under $26 million and a payroll around $7.5 million which represents around 153 jobs throughout the county.

“The Angelina County Airport is so, so important to the economic impact of Angelina County, Lufkin, and Nacogdoches,” said Angelina County Don Lymbery. “I’m telling you, businesses that come to do business in our area come and view the airport to find out how they’re going to be taken care of at the airport. It is very, very important.”

The data reflects direct impact from on-airport businesses, such as the ever-popular airport cafe to fuel sales.

“We have doubled our fuel sales since 2015. We’re up about 50 percent just this year from last year in January and February,” said airport manager, Gary Letney.

And the forecast is looking good.

-"We grew 20 percent in 2018 and then we’re showing an increase already this year, so I would expect the numbers are even better now," said Letney.

Pilots have experienced the changes. Chad Courtney flew for Lufkin Industries for 30 years before it closed. Today, the contract pilot can only reminisce about that corporate presence on Hanger Row.

“We had probably five corporate aircraft on the field. There’s basically one left now,” Courtney said.

Fortunately, privately owned businesses with planes fill the space.

“Everything we got is full,” Letney said.

It is all due to business owners who know the value of looking the customer in the eye, something Courtney, an Angelina County Airport board member, can appreciate.

“They don’t get to be successful by being remote. It’s a hands-on thing, and if you can go spend a day some place or talk to a customer face to face it makes all the difference," Courtney said.

The Angelina County Airport Board knows additional ramps and hanger space can lead to continued growth. The proposal is on the table to seek federal and state grants for construction. In addition, a game fence to keep deer off and away from runways is needed even though visitors enjoy seeing the frequent sightings.

Texas is served by 289 airports. As a state, Texas has increased its total output since 2011 by 58 percent. Its general aviation employment has grown by 54 percent, and its general aviation output growth by 47 percent, according to TxDOT.

If you’d like to compare how well Angelina County’s airport stacked up against other airports across the state, you can visit the Texas Department of Transportation website.

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