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May 7th 2024 | Written By Press Release | Share

Ford International Airport Fuels West Michigan Growth, Generating $7.7 Billion Annually in Economic Activity

Ford International Airport Fuels West Michigan Growth, Generating $7.7 Billion Annually in Economic Activity

New Economic Impact Study Reveals Airport’s Influence in Region

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 7, 2024 – The Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority, in partnership with Grand Valley State University (GVSU), unveiled key findings from its new economic impact study.

The study assessed the role of Gerald R. Ford International Airport in driving economic growth and prosperity in the 13-county West Michigan region. Results showed the Airport annually supports or contributes:

  • 40,324 jobs
  • $7.7 billion in economic activity
  • $10.3 million in fiscal impact
  • $1.3 billion in catalytic impact on household income

"The Airport plays a crucial role in facilitating economic growth and enhancing our community's vitality,” said Airport Authority Board Chair Dan Koorndyk. “Through our diligent and intentional efforts, we have more than doubled our economic impact since our last study was conducted in 2015 and are on track to reach our goal of $10 billion in economic activity by 2030.

“We appreciate our partners at GVSU for helping to benchmark our progress so that we can continue to shape our strategic objectives to meet the evolving needs of our community.”

Total direct spending annually by visitors traveling through Ford International Airport equaled $637 million, with an average daily spend of $161 per person. When visiting the West Michigan region, visitors stayed an average of 4.43 days. Construction activity associated with the Airport has also been significant, supporting an average of 328 construction jobs each year over the last five years.

"As the gateway to and from West Michigan, maintaining connectivity is essential as it provides business and community partners with resources to stimulate job growth, retain employees and support local residents' livelihoods,” said Ford International Airport Authority President and CEO Tory Richardson. "The Airport serves the fastest-growing region in the state, so it’s imperative that we continuously adapt and expand our services to meet the needs of our dynamic community.

“This ensures our area remains competitive nationally in attracting talent, businesses, tourism and more to further foster a vibrant regional economy.”

In 2019, the Airport announced plans for its $600 million capital expansion program known as ELEVATE, aimed at enhancing the guest experience and positioning the Airport for continued growth. The projects in this program include:

  • Expansion and widening of Concourse A, including the addition of eight new gates, new concession and retail options and modern amenities.
  • Construction of Michigan’s first consolidated rental car facility.
  • Expansion of the terminal curb front to consolidate all ticketing counters, implement a checked baggage inspection system to streamline operations and create a larger baggage claim space with additional carousels.
  • Addition of a federal inspection station to support nonstop international commercial flights.
  • Relocation of the air traffic control tower to accommodate terminal-area developments.
  • Increased parking capacity with a North Lot garage.

To date, the Airport has invested a total of $205 million in ELEVATE projects. With these investments, the Airport is poised to remain a driving force in powering the local economy and providing connectivity to the region.

Christian Glupker, clinical affiliate professor of economics at GVSU, led the study.

“Gerald R. Ford International Airport has a vital role in facilitating air travel for the West Michigan region,” said Glupker. “However, that is not the only role the Airport has in the local region. The Airport is also an economic engine to the local economy, by generating $7.7 billion in economic activity, supporting 40,324 jobs and a $10.3 million fiscal impact.”

The Airport served a record number of passengers in 2023, with almost 4 million traveling through the facility. It is ranked as one of the fastest-growing airports in the U.S. by the Federal Aviation Administration and was recently named the best small airport in the country by USA TODAY.

For more information and to download the full report, visit HERE.

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Topics: Press Release