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RAHALL: Investing in Airports is Investing in Jobs
VARNEY, W.Va. – Hailing the national economic benefits of local infrastructure investments, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Friday delivered the keynote remarks at the grand opening of the Mingo County Air Transportation Park.
“When we invest in Mingo Countians, we invest in America. By leveling the Nation’s economic playing field, the entire country prospers,” said Rahall, who, as the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has been a vocal advocate of investments in economic infrastructure as a means of creating jobs and fostering long-term economic growth.
In remarking on the new Air Park and state-of-the-art facilities, forged by public-private partnerships at the Federal, state, and local levels, Rahall said that small airports are big business and job creators, with over 19,000 landing facilities across the country. In 2009, factoring in manufacturing and visitor expenditures, general aviation accounted for a national economic contribution of $76.5 billion.
“These small airports are large local lifelines serving everything from law enforcement and military matters to emergency medical transport. Business and industry and tourism depend on them. Each of them is an important link in strengthening our nation’s transportation system. And quite like the strongest chain, our nation is only as strong as its weakest link,” said Rahall.
Rahall also noted the most recent budget passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, known as the Ryan budget for its author, House Budget Chairman and Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan, would, over ten years, cost West Virginians $108 million in aviation funds and $1.5 billion in highway funds. He said those cuts would almost assuredly spell an end to plans calling for a full service airport with a terminal building, fueling station, and hangars for the Mingo County Air Transportation Park.
“Those Washington budget whackers, who are too shortsighted to see the long-term benefits of federal investments in this airport, in the King Coal Highway, in our water and wastewater systems, and in broadband deployment, fail the future of our country. Rather than growing our economy by investing in our infrastructure, the basic building blocks of short-term and long-term jobs – across-the-board budget cuts to aviation and highways that some seem eager to impose would devastate the progress we have made. With every fiber in my being, I am going to keep fighting against such foolhardy cuts. We owe it to the families and the businesses and industries of the Tug Valley to fight that good fight,” said Rahall.
Rahall also praised the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority as a model for the nation, noting the successful public-private partnerships it helped to create under the stewardship of Mike Whitt and its work in the opening of the Air Transportation Park.
“Mike Whitt was like a force of nature, sweeping up everyone and every resource in his path swirling them into one of the most effective teams and partnerships this State and our country have ever seen. The federal government needs to keep listening as the redevelopment authority carries on Mike’s vision, one that was light-years ahead of other jurisdictions when he began forging public-private partnerships to save taxpayer dollars, leveraging public funding and, above all, creating good paying sustainable jobs for families. We will finish the job in large part because Mike’s legacy lives on in investment he made in Leasha Johnson, the leadership of Steve Kominar, and the dedication of the Redevelopment Authority Board,” said Rahall.