While there is much excitement about the possibility of Costco coming to Traverse City, there are also some very practical benefits of the zoning amendments before you that pertain to expanding opportunities and resources for funding infrastructure and operations of the Cherry Capital Airport.
The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce has worked for many years in partnership with Cherry Capital Airport executive director Kevin Klein and members of the Michigan Association of Airport Executives on changes to outdated state law that would allow for more revenue in the State Aeronautics Fund (SAF). The SAF collects aeronautics related tax revenue which is then granted out to airports around the state for airport safety and infrastructure projects. As was the case with our road system in Michigan, the state’s airports were also facing a structural deficit. Their infrastructure needs were far greater than the amount of money available in the SAF for grants.
Despite this glaring infrastructure need, it took 17 years and a lot of work particularly over the last four years to get a bill signed that would increase funding to the SAF. Unfortunately, the increase amounted to not even a quarter of what experts indicated was needed for proper airport infrastructure investment. In spite of the increase, it was clear that airports around the state, including our own Cherry Capital Airport, would need to find other ways to funding growing operation, safety, and infrastructure costs without overpricing airlines from our market.
On behalf of both the Chamber of Commerce and TraverseCONNECT, we applaud this creative solution for the airport to obtain further resources for its operational, safety, and infrastructure needs, while also engaging in economic development by bringing new employers and jobs to the area and opening up new tax revenue for the city. It is important to note that one year of income from just the Costco location would account for more revenue than what would come from the SAF, even with the recently enacted changes in state law.
We believe that quality air service is critical to working in, living in, and visiting our area. We support the Airport’s efforts to diversify and expand its resources by developing certain parcels of airport property.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Director of Government Relations
Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce