A missing piece in the region's economic structure is the lack of available air travel options. Hopefully, a $500,000 grant the Williamsport Regional Airport has been given to be used with other local funding to attract a second commercial carrier to the airport will solve much of the problem.
Airport officials are working hard to bring in a second airline that would offer daily flights to and from Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. Such an offering would be very important to the Marcellus Shale gas industry, which makes up half of the airline business locally now. Options to corporate offices in the southwest and southcentral parts of the country would be extremely helpful.
A connection to Washington, in addition to Philadelphia, would certainly make the airport a stronger economic catalyst, both for the gas industry and business and industry in general in the region. In fact, Vincent Matteo, president and CEO of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, calls a second carrier "critical to the local economy."
Certainly, with a new terminal building on the way and a second airline carrier, the airport's impact on the local economy would be closer to what it needs to be.
The grant plus another $550,000 in local funding would help guarantee a second air carrier can succeed here in its first year. After that, we are reasonably certain the business generated at the airport will be successful without assistance.
And hopefully, that missing piece in the local economy will be filled in.