The Pocatello Regional Airport continues to grow and that’s a good thing for the economy not just in Bannock County but throughout the region. The growth has been spurred by city leaders who have a vision for the airport that they believe will one day have a quarter billion dollar impact on our local economy.
It's become a familiar scene at the Pocatello Regional Airport. City dignitaries once again made the short drive to the terminal to celebrate the opening of yet another enhancement. Since Mayor Blad took office, the terminal has been completely renovated, passenger comfort has been greatly improved, and infrastructure upgrades have been completed.
In most cases, the city has only had to foot a portion of the bill and the mayor says it is easy to justify the expense because of the airport's potential.
"You look at the airport that we have, you look at the business park that we have, it's almost empty and so if we can develop that business park, like our plan is, that $39 million turns into $300 million," said Mayor Blad.
The $39 million impact of the airport was calculated in 2009, in the midst of the great recession. It's fair to speculate that its impact today could be even higher. Its impact in the future could be significantly larger because five different companies are currently looking to locate at the airport. The mayor says a lot of the interest is because of the existing infrastructure that is out there.
"We have rail here and we have air service and we have an airport that is wide open for industry to move into," said Blad. It's a great location for anybody that needs any kind of transportation. It seems like every industry we talk to, that's what they look for."
Like the mayor said, air service is important and the best way to make the pitch for additional service is through passenger numbers. Airport Manager David Allen says they are seeing more and more people driving down from the Upper Valley because he says the flights out of Pocatello are cheaper than Idaho Falls. Still for the most part, fares tend to be higher than starting your flight in Salt Lake City.
"It does cost a little more to fly out of here than it would out of Salt Lake, there is a markup," said Allen. "And while we can show them that they can save time and money, we also want to give them more value added for that extra cost. And so we do things like this and we throw the free Wi-Fi in there, free parking, complimentary coffee, because it gives them a little extra value for that premium of their fare."
This latest addition will give travelers a quieter place to work and relax while charging their electronic devices.