Two proposals to help Bradley International Airport fulfill its potential as an economic driver were enthusiastically supported by CBIA in a public hearing of the Commerce Committee this week.

 The proposals would establish an economic development zone around the airport (SB-107) and broaden the scope of Bradley’s board of directors (SB-109).

Since the landmark 1999 report by Michael Gallis defining key issues for Connecticut to compete in a 21st century global economy, increasing Bradley’s role as an economic engine for Connecticut and the region has been a major focus of the state’s business community.

Gallis wrote, “Bradley potentially is the most significant facility influencing Connecticut’s development within the `New Atlantic Triangle’—and how the state and the Hartford/Springfield metropolitan region connect to the North American continent and the world.”

A variety of other studies and reports have since been conducted on the governance of Bradley—one of just a small handful of state-owned, state-run airports in the country.

The 1999 Bradley International Airport, ‘At the Crossroads’ report prepared by Schiphol Project Consult B.V., concluded that the airport’s competitiveness could be improved by treating the airport not just a as a transportation facility, but as a business focused on return on investment.

CBIA agrees, and has since urged the state to establish a structure allowing the airport to operate with the speed and flexibility necessary to compete effectively in the highly competitive international transport business.

Great potential, but ...

The creation of the Bradley International Airport Board of Directors in 2001 was an important step in moving to a more business-like model for the airport.  More steps need to be taken for Bradley to meet its considerable economic potential.

How much potential? Thirty-four billion dollars in economic activity to the state over the next 20 years, representing nearly $11 billion in income for Connecticut residents and nearly 140,000 jobs, according to a 2005 estimate of the Department of Economic and Community Development.

In the most recent (2008) economic impact analysis, however, Bradley contributes $4 billion in economic activity to the state of Connecticut and the surrounding region, representing $1.2 billion in wages and 18,000 full-time jobs. Clearly there’s a long way to go to achieve the DECD estimates.

SB-107 and SB-109 are additional steps to move the airport towards greater economic competitiveness. SB-109 would reconstitute the board of directors, broaden the board’s authority to hire managerial employees, approve significant contracts and to work with the State Contracting Standards Board to streamline competitive bidding for contractors, vendors, and professional and other services.

SB-107 would establish a geographic area around Bradley in which municipalities could enter into agreements regarding fixed property assessments on applicable economic development investments for a period of years depending on the amount of investment. The bill also contains provisions to help manufacturers and technology-based businesses located in within the zone.

 For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Brown at 860.244.1926 or eric.brown@cbia.com.