Airports are a significant player on the local, national and global level and have an essential role in the movement of people and goods, foster trade and national security, and connect communities.
This past weekend, Sacramento International Airport celebrated its 50th birthday. As our population grew, SMF grew with it. Today, it offers more than 150 daily nonstop flights on 10 airlines to more than 30 destinations and continues to seek opportunities for expansion. In 2016, the airport served 10.1 million passengers, and as of last month, had 42 consecutive months of passenger growth.
But more than a transportation connector, SMF is an employment hub. More than 2,000 people work for the Sacramento County Department of Airports, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, the Transportation Security Administration, airlines and as terminal tenants.
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The airport serves our region as a tourism and conference destination. In 2016, 511 groups with 842,332 delegates booked 306,936 room nights in Sacramento with an estimated economic impact of more than $300 million. Taxi, ride-sharing and limousine services all reap the benefits of tourism and business travel. Today, SMF generates $4 billion a year for our region’s economy.
The Sacramento Metro Chamber is highly dependent on the airport. For our 47th year, we sent a delegation of 300-plus business and civic leaders to Washington, D.C., to advocate for our region at the federal level. We just recently traveled with 130 leaders to Austin to study the Texas capital city, including their new airport terminal for low-cost carriers through a public-private partnership. By connecting with the rest of the country, the Metro Chamber can support progress for businesses and communities within our region.
For 50 years, SMF has been a powerful economic engine. Its future growth and expansion is critical to meeting the demands of our growing population, tourism and business community. So let’s think big for the next 50 years. Let’s increase international flight options, build light rail from downtown directly to the terminals and attract new carriers reaching additional destinations. The chamber stands ready to build our future together.
Peter Tateishi is president and CEO of the Sacramento Metro Chamber. He can be contacted at PTateishi@MetroChamber.org.