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CHAPTER 14 CASE STUDIES 14.1 Greeley-Weld County Airport 14.2 Houma-Terrebonne Airport 14.3 Arnold Palmer Airport This chapter provides more complete descriptions of three case studies. 14.1 GREELEY-WELD COUNTY AIRPORT 14.1.1 BACKGROUND The Greeley-Weld County Airport is a general aviation airport in northern Colorado with approximately 145,000 annual operations. The airport is run by six full-time and three part-time employees. Airport marketing is han- dled principally by the airport manager and his staff as part of their overall job responsibilities. Most of the air- port's budget goes to airport operations and staff. Between $5,000 and $10,000 is spent on marketing, includ- ing a substantial contribution from the Upstate Colorado Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which helps fund the airport's participation at the State of Colorado's booth at the annual NBAA conference. Upstate Colorado Economic Development subsequently is reimbursed the amount of their investment in this endeavor through a Colorado Enterprise Zone Trade Show Program Grant administered by the Governor's Office of Economic Development. Greeley-Weld County Airport has experienced development opportunities arising out of substantial population growth in communities north of Denver. It also competes directly with Ft. Collins-Loveland Airport which is 20 miles west of Greeley. Ft. Collins-Loveland Airport has a very good location next to the I-25 corridor and a potential private developer with an extensive marketing capability. To compete effectively and address the air- port's future opportunities, the airport manager decided to prepare an economic development plan, a marketing plan, and a public information plan. All of these documents were outside the airport's current budget. To move ahead, the airport manager called on existing relationships in the Greeley area for assistance. For the economic development plan, the manager contacted the Director of the EDC. The EDC principally serves Greeley and Weld County. The airport and the EDC already exchange development and investment leads. For the public information plan, the Airport Manager turned to the City of Greeley Public Information Office for assis- tance. For the marketing plan, the manager engaged students from Metro State's Aviation and Aerospace Science Department. The marketing plan became a special student project. This case study was selected because Greeley-Weld County Airport created three strategic documents with a small budget. The approach had important side benefits including strengthening ties with the regional EDC, the City of Greeley, and giving students at Metro State a real experience putting together a marketing plan. An overview of how each plan was created is described in the following subsections. 143
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144 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports 14.1.2 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN In 2004, the Greeley-Weld County Airport Authority adopted its Master Plan, which is a comprehensive docu- ment detailing specific projections, development alternatives, environmental constraints, capital improvements, and more. The Airport Manager did not want to have a static document, especially in view of the development that was taking place in northern Colorado. The manager viewed an economic development plan as a way to maintain a consistent direction for the future of the airport and as such, this plan would be a direct extension of the Master Plan. With no explicit budget to prepare the development plan, the airport manager approached the Director of the Upstate Colorado EDC and asked for technical assistance as to what elements went into a basic economic development plan. At no cost to the airport, the EDC provided a framework for the plan. The plan was constructed in-house by airport staff, with the assistance of the EDC. The Airport Board of Commissioners served as a steering committee for the formulation of this document and ultimately adopted the plan. 14.1.3 PUBLIC INFORMATION PLAN The airport manager also recognized that a public information plan could serve multiple purposes. It sets pro- cedures for news releases and emergency situations. It also provides a mechanism to disseminate information about the airport. The airport had considerable experience talking with the press and the public, but had no expertise in making a plan. The airport manager approached the City of Greeley Public Information Office for assistance and direction. The Information Office showed the airport what needed to be in a public information plan (i.e., the elements) and the airport staff wrote the plan. Of the three documents described in this case study, the information plan is most used, primarily because it resides on the airport's website. The airport loaded basic information and photos on its website. This information is used extensively by the press, by prospective busi- nesses, and other interested parties. The information posted on the web has reduced the number of calls the airport gets for information and has helped focus follow-up requests for additional information. 14.1.4 MARKETING PLAN The third component was a marketing plan for the airport. In January 2007, the Greeley-Weld County Airport embarked on a joint project with Metro State, a public 4-year college. The Aviation and Aerospace Science Department at Metro State is the fifth largest collegiate aviation program in the country, offering a Bachelor of Science degree with majors in Aviation Technology, Aviation Management, Aerospace Operations, and Aviation Maintenance Management. Greeley's marketing plan was one of several Capstone Projects offered to second semester senior year students to apply what they have learned from their college curriculum to a real-life airport situation. Two teams of students submitted resumes and qualifications to participate in the project (as if it were a con- sultant selection). One team of three students was selected for the project. Faculty from the Aviation and Aerospace Department and the Marketing Departments sponsored the project and the Greeley-Weld County Airport Manager remained actively involved. The project included the following activities: (1) a demographic study for Greeley-Weld County, (2) a competitive analysis of surrounding airports, (3) a review of marketing strategies being used by other airports, and (4) a set of marketing recommendations for the Greeley-Weld County Airport.