A report released this month by the North Carolina Department of Transportation shows that the Raleigh Executive Jetport located in northern Lee County – formerly known as the Sanford-Lee County Regional Airport – generates more than $61 million annually in economic activity and has led to the creation of more than 400 jobs.

The report, which you can read here, shows the state’s 72 airports generating a total of “$52 billion to the state’s economy, supporting 307,000 jobs that generate $12.6 billion in personal income and $2.2 billion in state and local tax revenues.”

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“North Carolina boasts the nation’s second fastest growing aerospace manufacturing sector, with strong aerospace maintenance and military aviation enterprises, 14 commercial airline operators and 26 air freight companies,” the report reads. “North Carolina is at the forefront of innovations catalyzing the growth of an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drones) economy.”

As for our airport – renamed Raleigh Executive Jetport several years ago to highlight its proximity to the Triangle and attract private flyers who might otherwise choose RDU – the report shows it generating $61,160,000 in economic activity, including $19.5 million in personal income and $2.3 million in state and local taxes, and supporting a total of 470 jobs.

That number, said Raleigh Executive Jetport Director Bob Heuts, is a fairly large increase since the last time the study was done in 2014, when the airport was said to have generated roughly $30 million in economic activity.

“Clearly we made a jump,” Heuts said. “Part of that could be due to the increase in the economy. But we have a lot of new business activity as well.”

Heuts cited Cloverleaf Cold Storage, which purchased Imperial Freezer in 2011, as an example.

“They flew in here to make that acquisition,” he said. “And they flew into a number of other communities as well. If a community didn’t have an airport, they probably didn’t visit that community. It’s examples like that of the indirect impact an airport has on a community or a region.”

The airport was opened off Farrell Road in northern Lee County in 2001 and is co-owned by Lee County and the city of Sanford. Since then, it has expanded rapidly, growing from hosting 30-some airplanes when it opened to more than 150 today. Leaders broke ground on an additional terminal in October.

For more information about the airport, visit their website.