EDITORIAL: Attract private dollars to help airport fly

2013-04-11T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Attract private dollars to help airport fly nwitimes.com
April 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority is moving forward with plans to seek high-flying but well-grounded investors willing to spend at least $100 million to develop the airport. It's an attempt to give the airport the jump-start it needs to become the economic engine it promises to become.

The public's focus on the airport often centers on regularly scheduled passenger service. Allegiant Air currently uses the airport, but other airlines have come and gone over the years.

Focusing only on the airlines, though, misses all the other jobs associated with an airport. Servicing the planes and handling cargo can generate high-paying jobs as well.

Developing the airport is all about generating jobs.

The public-private partnership being sought isn't being timed for squeezing big dollars out of the investor, as was the case with the privatization of the Indiana Toll Road. A big windfall would be nice, but don't expect it.

A thriving airport with multiple airlines providing regularly scheduled passenger flights to a long list of attractive destinations would be an easier sell than an airport that is still being developed, but this deal at Gary/Chicago International Airport is worth exploring.

A revenue-sharing arrangement would allow the public to retain ownership of this asset while attracting private dollars to continue development of the airport so it can reach its potential.

A private investor with a stake in the airport's success could help the airport grow more quickly into the economic engine it promises to become. Look for someone who clearly has the ability to get this process started quickly.

Keep exploring the public-private partnership, with an eye on the jobs that could be created there.

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