KCPS: A $422 Million Economic Engine

KCPS: A $422 Million Economic Engine
March 21, 2022 Jerry Vallely

A panoramic photo of hangers and planes at the St. Louis Downtown Airport with the St. Louis skyline in the background.

In December 2021, St. Louis Downtown Airport (KCPS), an FAA-designated reliever airport in St. Clair County, Illinois, shared the results of a newly released study which found the airport continues to be a major contributor to the local and state economies. According to the study, which was conducted by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), St. Louis Downtown Airport contributed more than $422 million in economic impact for the region in 2019, including factors such as on-airport activity and visitor spending.

Located just a few minutes east of Downtown St. Louis, the report indicates St. Louis Downtown Airport acts as a Gateway to the St. Louis Metropolitan area. Due to its strategic location, St. Louis Downtown is  the busiest general aviation airport in Illinois. The airport supports significant activity from recreational and business flying, as well as flight instruction from the St. Louis University Parks College, the nation’s oldest flight school. The study highlights that, in addition to several aircraft and helicopter maintenance organizations at the airport, one of the largest maintenance, repair, and overhaul organizations, Gulfstream Aerospace, is located at the airport. Additional activities supported by the airport include government operations, military training, real estate tours, medical transport, aerospace technology research, and glider flying.

“The diversity of operations occurring here at St. Louis Downtown Airport contributes to our continued role as an economic engine for the bi-state St. Louis region and makes us a key contributor to the tremendous strength of the aviation sector in the State of Illinois,” said Taulby Roach, President and CEO of Bi-State Development, which owns and operates the airport as one of its enterprises.

The study also shows that St. Louis Downtown Airport remains a major employer in the St. Louis area, contributing to 1,522 full-time and part-time jobs in the region. The airport’s sizable workforce generated $105.8 million in labor income — or total employment compensation — in 2019, including wages and other benefits, according to the results of the study. Revenue generated from visitors from out of state traveling through St. Louis Downtown Airport for business or personal reasons in 2019 totaled $13.6 million, spent on things like accommodations, local ground transportation, retail and entertainment. The report also revealed the “value added” economic productivity of each aviation related business establishment connected to the airport was $177.7 million in 2019.

“While we’ve faced some challenges in recent years, not the least of which is the global pandemic that temporarily stalled the aviation industry, our potential for continued growth is evident in the strong rebound in flights taking advantage of the airport’s unmatched location to Downtown St. Louis and the surrounding region,” said Roach.

The $422 million figure for St. Louis Downtown Airport represents the sum of on-airport activity generated by the airport management and administration and airport tenants, as well as on-airport construction.