The Virtues of Spending Wisely

Paul Bowers
Published in: 

From personal splurges on that perfect holiday gift to multi-billion infrastructure projects, spending makes the economy go 'round. Yet there seems to be a chorus of demands on the political front to curb governmental spending. We talk incessantly about it; elections are decided by it. But guess what? It continues onward, and that's not a bad thing ... if it's managed properly.

In our own world of airports, we know what money can do. We also know what it's like not to have a long-term FAA spending bill in place. It's frustrating and chaotic, to say the least.

But just because we know the value of keeping airports safe, reliable and ready for the growth we know will occur again, doesn't mean that the public always understands the need for airport spending. They simply don't realize the lead-time necessary to build a new runway or terminal.

Those charged with spending airport improvement funds have a responsibility that transcends assessing needs, finding solutions and executing plans. The responsibility also includes educating those who have a vested interest in our airports - everyone from your board to area taxpayers to local and national media.

At the annual Airport Consultants Council meeting in November, Steve Grossman, airport director for Jacksonville International Airport, encouraged airports to "brag" about their accomplishments. Letting people know about your current and past successes, he said, is crucial to building support and good will for future projects - especially if they're large or potentially controversial. Another bit of advice Steve offered may sound obvious but is often overlooked: Discuss benefits, not costs. No one likes to spend needlessly, but we all want good service. A little marketing goes a long way!

Cheers! Paul


Last issue's article about the new North Terminal at Miami International contained an error in the headline and first paragraph. The project cost $2.94 billion, as listed in the Facts & Figures section of the article. We apologize for any confusion our mistake may have caused.

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