Growth at Dayton International Airport continues to promote economic development.

By Ginny McCabe

Success is breeding success at Dayton International Airport. For years the airport has gained a reputation in the region as an attractive gateway for corporate and leisure travelers alike, but most recently it has notably become a hub that contributes the area’s economic growth and development.

“Late in January, Amazon announced plans to build a new $1.49 billion worldwide cargo facility on 900 acres at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport,” says Terry Slaybaugh, director of aviation at Dayton International Airport. “The expansion is also expected to bring 2,700 new jobs to the region. We have positioned this airport for the ability to attract that size of a development, so what we’ve been focusing on the last five years is putting ourselves in a position to be able to not only entertain development on that scale but to actually put all of the assets in place—the infrastructure, the land, the utilities and everything that we would need to be in position so when an opportunity like that comes along we will be able to take advantage of it.”

Slaybaugh says he views the Amazon development at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport a little bit differently than most people who see the move as a loss for Ohio and the Dayton region.

“I know that being able to attract that magnitude of development to Cincinnati in the long run is only going to benefit what we’re doing in Dayton. It puts us on the map, it gets site locators and national developers all across the country now focused on this area,” says Slaybaugh. “Eventually that interest will land at the Dayton International Airport because we are one of the few places in the region where we are positioned with infrastructure, a commercial top-100 airport, and the available land to build that size development,” he says.

The Dayton International Airport can quickly assemble 200 to 300 acres for development on one parcel, says Slaybaugh. “That’s really what our asset is—we have land that we can assemble on a large scale and we can position it and make it available for development.”

Another important factor is the airport’s location, which is at the crossroads of Interstates 70 and 75. Owned by the city of Dayton, the airport is within a day’s drive of about 60 percent of the population base of the United States, which puts it in a good position to attract development, says Slaybaugh.

One of the latest initiatives at the airport, which Slaybaugh calls a “game changer,” is Spectrum Brands Global Auto Care’s $33 million distribution center. The company specializes in auto care products, including the manufacturing and distribution of brands such as STP, Armor All and A/C Pro.

“For the first time in the last year we were able to implement a program with Spectrum Brands. They built a 570,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility on the airport creating over 345 jobs,” he says.

The Spectrum Brands facility currently is owned by Kansas City, Mo.-based NorthPoint Development Co., an approximate $1.2 billion real estate investment trust that specializes in developing large logistics facilities across the country.

“We have an option with NorthPoint on a second parcel of 32 acres right next to the Spectrum Brands building. They have an option to develop another 500,000-square-foot building. I anticipate starting on the second building in the first half of this year. At a minimum in 2017 we will see the development of another 500,000 square feet of logistics or manufacturing at the airport,” Slaybaugh says.

Development of the airport’s property is generating additional revenue for the airport and the city and it continues to attract the attention of global businesses. It also creates local jobs and maximizes the region’s economic developmentpotential, he says.

Slaybaugh says Procter & Gamble’s distribution center in Union, which is northwest of the airport, was key in attracting interest to the area. The company built an almost 2-million-square-foot logistics building with more than 1,200 employees.

“That was what started the discussion about the Spectrum Brands building,” says Slaybaugh. “Back to my point about Amazon, even though it’s in the state of Kentucky, and not a direct benefit to Ohio and this area, I think it’s going to bring attention to this area and long term it will be good for the region.”

He says it goes back to the adage ‘success breeds success.’ The fact that P&G chose this location and built here has led to Spectrum Brands and that is going to continue to bring a focus on the area, says Slaybaugh.

PSA, a regional airline owned by American Airlines, is another success story. PSA, headquartered in Dayton since the late 1970s, is also experiencing explosive growth at the Dayton International Airport—with its crew base, a new maintenance hangar, flight training as well as a new operations center.

Last fall, PSA unveiled a new maintenance facility. The new 70,000-square-foot maintenance hangar was created to accommodate PSA’s growing fleet of planes. It also complements the existing 50,000-square-foot maintenance facility.

Slaybaugh says the airport worked very closely with the leadership at PSA Airlines. “The fact that its corporate headquarters was already in Dayton, we negotiated with them on the expansion of their training facility in Dayton. We built them a new operations center, which is where they track their aircraft while they are in flight.” Basically, PSA has expanded from 47 aircraft to a fleet of 115. It has grown from 360 employees to close to 1,000 employees at the Dayton International Airport and it has about 2,200 employees nationwide.

“PSA has been important to our air service because a lot of those aircraft come here for maintenance and then leave Dayton as revenue flights. Right now, American Airlines makes up about 35 percent of our passenger traffic at the airport,” Slaybaugh says.

He says there have been several significant benefits of the PSA expansion in Dayton. One is the economic benefit to the region and to the city of Dayton. The other major benefit has been air service because it has reinforced the airport’s air service.

In other related news at the airport, Southwest recently announced that it is moving from Dayton to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in June.

With Southwest leaving Dayton the market is actively being offered to other low-fare carriers, Slaybaugh says, and the hope is that a new carrier will be in place this year.

In addition to the economic growth and development opportunities, the airport has a 10-year program in place for renovations at the airport terminal to better serve its customers.

“This year, we are going to begin the repurposing of the airport terminal. The first project is a $16-million facelift to the front of the terminal,” Slaybaugh says.