Detroit Metropolitan Airport


Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport 2006 Economic Impact Study

Author: School of Management, University of Michigan-Dearborn

Date: July 2006


Peer-to-Peer Tips:

a) Using a local university adds credibility in local presentations

b) Compare the size of the airport workforce to the community’s largest private sector employers

c) Impact (even dated numbers) can be cited during FAA shutdown


Why the Study

This is the 3rd Economic Impact Study we have done for DTW since I have been at DTW (1986).

We include the data from the EIS in every community presentation, all appropriate news releases/media interviews, guest columns written for airport executives and board members. Even though the data is getting a little dusty, this data is very helpful in discussions surrounding bond issues, expansion plans, noise mitigation, etc.

The airport is an important launching pad to the world for our business and leisure travel communities, but activity at the airport also creates an enormous economic impact in the state and a significant number of jobs.

Target Audiences: The public (including neighbors and travelers), the media, elected officials, our own Board, etc.

This study was done in 2006 (based on 2005 data) We also did one in 2007 for Willow Run Airport (YIP). This was the last one we did. The studies are undertaken when the budget permits. I am unsure of the cost of this study.

We used University of Michigan-Dearborn which adds credibility, but also creates other issues which I will discuss at the end of this questionnaire. By credibility I mean: “A study conducted a few years ago by the University of Michigan-Dearborn reveals that activity at Detroit Metropolitan Airport generates more than 71,000 jobs in the State of Michigan…” That’s a powerful line to include in any speech or presentation.


Communications Strategy

The Message: Whether you have any interest in air travel or not, you can’t deny the powerful economic benefits of having a major international hub airport in your community.

The message did not differ with different stakeholders. These numbers are effective to back up the airport’s position on almost anything. Asking local mayors or an editorial board to support a runway extension, asking a legislator for funding support, asking for FAA reauthorization.

I actually was using these numbers effectively when I was talking to the media about the last FAA shutdown.

Here is a powerful message in this town: If one of the big three automakers announced they were opening a new assembly plant in Detroit do you think that would make the front page? Why? Because of the jobs. Did you know that the airport has, working inside the fence, the equivalent number of employees to four or five auto plants?

Our effort to deliver the findings and the message are continuous. I believe they have been very successful, but not scientifically measured.

The Detroit and Willow Run reports are posted on the airport authority’s website under publications.

I agree with my friend Pat Hogan at MSP that there is an issue that I believe needs to be addressed. Different airports use different standards in generating numbers and reaching economic impact conclusions. This causes a problem when reporters research “total economic impact” numbers comparing your airport to others. There should be a common standard.


Supporting materials


Information submitted by:

Michael Conway
Communications Director
Detroit Metropolitan Airport
Willow Run Airport
Wayne County Airport Authority
734 942 3558