“This is a good way to recognize the importance of aviation in our community and educate the public about what these general aviation airports do for the communities,” said Elton Cultice, manager of Grimes Field Municipal Airport in Urbana. “Travel, tourism, and businesses are associated with (the airport.) There is economic benefit from the people who work here, the cafe, people at the museums and construction people. The airport is a benefit to the community in every way you can think of.”
Cultice noted one particular area of importance.
“A lot of new pilots are being trained by small, general aviation airports like our flight school here,” he said. “Just about every small airport has a flight school and that is where a lot of the up and coming airline pilots are being trained these days. A lot of people don’t understand what the airports are doing and that is why in a lot of places, airports are getting closed down.”
Selena Shilad, executive director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America, spoke on the importance of small airports like Grimes Field.
“In Ohio, general aviation and our network of airports support the livelihood of businesses, towns, cities, and farms across the state and country,” said Shilad. “We thank Governor DeWine for his leadership in recognizing the importance of general aviation and look forward to working with him and other leaders to support these aircraft and our network of airports.”
Shilad stressed the important impact Grimes Field has on Champaign County.
“While many are aware of the value of commercial aviation, they may not be aware of the value of general aviation and local airports,” said Shilad. “In the Champaign County area, Grimes Field has an economic impact of over $2 million in terms of payroll as well as $9 million in economic impact. They support a lot of critical services and economic activity that people may be unaware of, such as flight training, medical care, patient and organ transport, firefighting and many others.”
Shilad said economic impact for general aviation was affected by the pandemic between 2019 and 2020. However, she said it is starting to return to the pre-pandemic level. For more information on the impact of general aviation in the community, visit www.aviationacrossamerica.org/economic-impact/.
With potential growth in economic impact, Cultice hopes to expand Grimes Field, allowing for more business traffic access.
“One of the things we want to address is making this a more easily accessible option for businesses,” he said. “We have a lot of businesses around here and a lot of them need to be connected to a local airport where they can come and go.”
Formed in 2007, the Alliance for Aviation Across America is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of over 7,000 individuals representing businesses, agricultural groups, FBO’s, small airports, elected officials and charitable organizations. They lead business and aviation groups that support the interests of the general aviation community across various public policy issues.