Hagerstown Regional Airport increases economic development

- HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- The Hagerstown Regional Airport ranked in the top 10 percent in total jobs and business revenue among 35 publicly-used airports in the state of Maryland in 2014, according to the economic impact study by the Maryland Aviation Administration that was released in early July.

Ranked second in most categories, including overall jobs among 35 airports, the Hagerstown Regional Airport has never been ranked this high in the study by the administration. 

The study excluded Baltimore-Washington International Airport, but included all other airports in the state.

The Hagerstown Airport Director, Phil Ridenour, was quick to give county officials credit for the recent success.

"It has a lot to say about the county, how the county promotes the airport and how the county promotes business at the airport," Ridenour said.  "And how the airport works with those business to continue to develop and create work at the airport itself."

Ridenour said a big contributor in the rankings is the runway expansion in 2007, which give larger aircraft an opportunity to fly through Washington County.

Ridenour said the airport isn't just about commercial service, but about a lot of aviation related businesses.

For example, the director at the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA) in Hagerstown, Butch Adams, said they provide skilled employees going into aviation or other engineering and manufacturing businesses.

"By having a school here at the Hagerstown Airport, we're hoping to draw more businesses here to the airport and to build the airport up and make it more a contribution to the economy," Adams said. 

With approximately 5,500 airports in the U.S., Adams said there are only 162 schools like the PIA. 

Another factor, the Rider Jet Center, has invested more than $30 million to the regional airport and its vice president, Ben Rider, said the aviation business goes under the radar too much. 

"The location is definitely a driving factor, our proximity to the Washington D.C., Baltimore area is huge," Rider said.

"We're an under utilized airport - room to grow - a lot of potential out here. There's not the air traffic out here as it is in Baltimore or Washington, which is a strong point for a lot of businesses looking for a place to operate," Rider added. 

With five hangers and a 22,000 square ft. office building with a restaurant inside, Rider said the center has a lot to offer to pilots and other plane lovers. 

Rider said they act as a gateway for corporate and general aircraft, by refueling them and the commercial aircraft for the regional airport, plus providing hanger leasing.

In total, the Hagerstown Regional Airport impacts 1,447 jobs with more than $79 million in personal income, more than $108 million in business revenue and more than $8 million in state and local taxes.

Martin-State Airport, which is north of Baltimore, ranked first in the study. Other airports ranking close are the Frederick Municipal Airport and Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional Airport.

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