IDA Providing Partial Funding For Airport Study | News, Sports, Jobs

IDA Providing Partial Funding For Airport Study | News, Sports, Jobs

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  • January 25, 2023
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gbacon@observertoday.com

The Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency believes a market analysis should be done on commercial air at the county airport in Jamestown.

During the county IDA meeting Tuesday, board members unanimously agreed to spend $25,000 to fund a airport development/market analysis study for essential air service.

The study will still require $50,000 from the county legislature. County Executive PJ Wendel was in attendance at the IDA meeting and said they hope to use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for the remaining $50,000 portion.

In late 2020, the county legislature rejected spending $75,000 on an airport study.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Mark Geise, IDA chief executive officer, discussed the proposal and referenced the previous rejected vote. “Part of the reason why (the study was rejected) was because there was no ‘skin in the game’ from anybody else. It was all county. This demonstrates that the business community, through the IDA — we represent the business community — is willing to kick in to help,” he said.

Geise said the market analysis would look at potential ridership and where are people flying out of now.

Shannon Barnhart, manager of the two county airports, said she wants to see the study done. “It’s a possibility that air service may not be the best thing for Chautauqua County, but we don’t know. We hope that it is,” she said.

Wendel noted that airlines have talked to the county about bringing commercial air back to Jamestown but said they’re not interested in exploring it without that market analysis completed. “Getting this analysis in here will put it to bed once and for all,” he said.

Wendel said if the analysis shows commercial air won’t work, he’s ready to accept that. “If this doesn’t come true, if it doesn’t say essential air service will be supported, then Shannon has a plan. We’re going to shift gears and move towards how do we make this a general aviation airport and how do we gain revenue and build that base,” he said.

The legislature recently learned that some of the initial projects that were approved using ARPA funds have either been shelved, scaled back or received funding from other sources. Because of that, they’re in the process of developing a list of potential projects with the unspent $24 million that was given to the county by the federal government. ARPA funds cannot be used to pay down debt service or lower taxes.



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