(Asheville, N.C.) Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) contributes close to half a billion dollars annually to the western North Carolina region, according to a recent economic impact study by The Institute for Transportation Research & Education at North Carolina State University. “This is important information to share with the communities we serve,” said Lew Bleiweis, A.A.E., Executive Director, “Asheville Regional Airport is important to our region for more reasons than air travel. It’s a key driver of jobs, local spending, tourism and economic development.” AVL recently published a summary of its economic impact, based on the North Carolina State University study, as well as studies conducted by Syneva Economics and Airports Council International – North America. Of specific note, the airport contributes 1,700 jobs to the region, and every 50-seat round-trip flight has a real and positive impact on the community – approximately $43,000 circulated locally through employment income, passenger spending and taxes. “The national airport industry is second only to Wal-Mart in the number of jobs it generates, and contributes eight percent of the total U.S. gross domestic product,” explained Bleiweis, quoting data from Airports Council International. “Boil that down to the state and local level, and Asheville Regional Airport contributes significantly to the six percent of the state gross domestic product generated by airports, and ranks fourth out of nine North Carolina commercial airports for economic impact in the state.” What does this data truly mean for western North Carolina? “The presence of a strong regional airport is beneficial in many ways for residents of our area,” explained Bleiweis. “And it’s important to understand this bigger picture when making decisions about which airport to use. While it may not always make sense to ‘buy local’, the more often a local decision is made, the stronger the economy becomes. This philosophy applies to airports, as well, and I encourage the community to continue to keep this in mind when making purchasing decisions.” View the summary of economic impact.