Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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Local airports offer economic advantages

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Local airports offer economic advantages
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Looking up at a plane and wondering its destination might not bring smaller locations to mind. But regional airports like Massena International fly passengers in and out every day. Matt Jarchow shares how these small airports can make a big impact on the area.

MASSENA, N.Y -- Massena residents looking to fly away have a few options. Drive three hours to a large airport, through customs to Canada, or to Massena International.

"It is certainly a huge time saver, and some would say a convenience but really it's more important than that," Massena Town Supervisor Joseph Gray said. "If you need to get somewhere in a hurry, if its a family emergency, or whatever, you need to be connected to the air travel network."

Connecting to the air travel network doesn't just send residents out. It can bring business in.

"It will frequently increase people who are interested in doing business in the community, people who may have an interest in recreational opportunities," Congressman Bill Owens said. "It creates a baseline if you will for broad economic development."

Congressman Owens announced more than $2.5 million in grants to local airports. Nearly one million dollars of which will go to improvements at Massena International.

In order for businesses and tourists to take advantage of what airports like Massena has to offer, the municipalities must be able to afford them. And that wouldn't be possible without federal support.

"If we were to burrow the money the only way to pay that debt would be to raise taxes and it just would make the airport completely unfeasible and inoperable from the town's standpoint," Gray said.

Town officials hope to take the federal grant money one step further and not just sustain the airport, but grow it.

"We hope that at some point down the road we may be able to extend the runway here, offer some larger aircrafts and some bigger connections to bigger airports," Gray said.

And maybe become that large airport that right now is three hours away.

In addition to Massena International, funding grants went to airports in Lake Placid, Potsdam, and Alone.

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