rainerd’s Andy Larson is a frequent flier, having logged more than 88,000 miles since the start of the year— more than three full rotations around the circumference of the earth. Though he serves as chairman of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport commission, he rarely departs from his home airport, which doesn’t have the flights he needs to reach the East Coast by the start of the business day. Instead, he drives to the Twin Cities the night before, pays for parking and a hotel, and loses nearly a day of productivity for every trip he takes. “For business travelers, it’s about timing and convenience,” Larson said. “And at this point in Brainerd, it’s just not there.” Brad Goskowicz, the CEO of St. Cloud’s Microbiologics, Inc., is also a globetrotter, spending more than $100,000 on business travel every year to reach customers in 132 countries. Though 40 percent of his revenue comes from outside the U.S., his international customers have had a much harder time getting to St. Cloud since Delta Airlines pulled the only commercial service to the St. Cloud Regional Airport in December 2009. “I’ve got a gentleman coming from Japan next week, which means he’s going to have to fly into MSP, and we’re either
Andy Larson: “For business leaders, it’s about timing and convenience.”
going to have to hire a limo service to drive him here, or I’ll have to assign an employee to go and get him,” said Goskowicz. “As a business, you lose more of what you don’t have—enough time in our day.” When it comes to central Minnesota’s economy, airports matter. Industry statistics show that every daily flight represents $4 million in annual economic impact for a community. When customers who could have boarded planes in their own region fly out of Duluth or Fargo or the
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) because of price, timing, inconvenience or simple lack of service, millions of dollars in revenue and other opportunities are lost. “Better air service is a hidden piece of our economic development,” said Kathy Gaalswyk, president of the Initiative Foundation. The Foundation brought together business and community partners from both cities to brainstorm how both regional airports can attract airlines and sustain better service. 3rd Quarter 2012
Published by the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls, Minnesota, IQ Magazine boils down regional leadership issues to their very essence....