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Report: ILM Boosts Economy By $2.5B

By Staff Reports, posted Jan 9, 2023
The Wilmington International Airport generates an estimated $2.5 billion in economic output, according to a recent report. (Photo by Johanna F. Still)
The Wilmington International Airport generated an estimated $2.5 billion in economic output in 2021, according to a recent N.C. Department of Transportation report. 

The State of Aviation report, released on Jan. 6, crunches 2021 figures – the latest complete data available. In terms of economic output, ILM ranked fourth among the state’s other commercial airports in Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Greensboro. 

“We’re proud of the strong economic impact ILM has on our economy,” ILM airport director Jeff Bourk said in a statement. “The report is based on 2021 data and we know, with ILM’s continued growth, ILM’s impact has increased even more.”

ILM contributed $822.7 million in personal income, $112.9 million in state and local taxes, and supported 13,550 jobs, according to the report. The previous aviation report, based on 2019 data, found the airport contributed $572.6 million in personal income, $83.9 million in state and local taxes and supported 16,385 jobs. That previous analysis found ILM’s economic output to be $2.2 billion. 

The recent report found North Carolina’s 72 public airports make up 11% of the state’s gross domestic product. 

Passenger traffic statewide reached 80% of its pre-pandemic 2019 levels in 2021, according to the report. North Carolina is served by 17 commercial airlines. The state also saw a new cargo record in 2021, with airports moving 1.3 million tons of goods.

Nearby Henderson Field Airport in Wallace generated $13 million in economic activity, according to the report. "It is often viewed that General Aviation airports such as Henderson Field in northern Pender County are burdens on the taxpayers, but this report relays the exact opposite," Pender County shared in a release. The airport expects nearly $30 million in investments over the next five years, the release states.

Cape Fear Regional Jetport in Oak Island spurred $378 million in economic output and supported more than 2,000 jobs, according to the report.
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