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Case Studies 145 The Metro State team spent 5 months developing the marketing plan. The team relied heavily on published air- port data and phone interviews with key stakeholders. The students performed a SWOT analysis of the Greeley- Weld County Airport to better understand the actual and/or perceived strengths and weaknesses of the airport along with the potential opportunities and threats that could influence the airport's marketing strategy going for- ward. The team also reviewed the airport's infrastructure, operations, location in relationship to Denver International Airport (DIA) and other Front Range airports, and available land for development. The students presented the marketing plan to the Greeley-Weld County Airport in May 2007 and it was adopted by the Greeley-Weld County Airport Authority Board of Commissioners in July 2007. The airport donated $1,000 to the Metro State's Aviation and Aerospace Science Department in appreciation of the student and faculty effort. 14.1.5 CONCLUSIONS AND LESSONS LEARNED Greeley-Weld County Airport created three key planning and implementation documents. They were not fancy, but they provided the airport with the basic information and strategies to go forward. In so doing, the airport also established a baseline of data and documents that can be updated as needed. The following are lessons learned for airports that are contemplating strategic planning and marketing: · Investigate municipal, county, and state resources to fund airport planning. · Consider engaging students from a local college, but expect to set aside time to scope and follow the effort. · Adjust expectations for deliverables according to the resources available to accomplish the task. · The economic development plan, the public information plan, and the marketing plan can be completed with limited resources. They can benefit an airport and are definitely worth doing. · It is much better to take some form of action with limited financial resources than to take no action at all because large funding resources are not available. 14.2 HOUMA-TERREBONNE AIRPORT 14.2.1 BACKGROUND Houma-Terrebonne Airport is the largest general aviation airport in Louisiana. It is also the third busiest airport in the state with approximately 117,000 annual operations. Administration of the airport is the responsibility of the Houma-Terrebonne Airport Commission (H-TAC). The airport is financially self-supporting from revenues received from leases, fuel flowage fees, and other income producing activities. The airport has a full-time airport director who, with the help of an administrative assistant, is responsible for overseeing the marketing activities of the airport and industrial park. Thus, direct resources at the airport for marketing and business development are scarce. However, the airport director has a strong working relationship with the local economic develop- ment organization (Terrebonne Economic Development Authority [TEDA]). It is this organization that serves as a significant marketing engine for the airport and industrial park. Between $2,500 and $5,000 is spent from the
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146 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports airport's operating budget on marketing materials annually. This figure does not include travel expenses to mar- keting events such as NBAA or funds spent by the TEDA on behalf of the airport through the State of Louisiana's marketing match grant program. Houma-Terrebonne Airport is located 55 miles southwest of New Orleans and 26 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. In August and September 2005, Louisiana's coastline was ravaged by two of the largest hurricanes in U.S. history. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused extensive damage to major sections of Louisiana's coastline including significant damage to business and residential areas. With a location just beyond the direct impact of the hurricanes, Houma-Terrebonne Airport responded to the oppor- tunity presented by the devastation. Specifically, these storms wiped out the shoreline helicopter operations that support the offshore oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana is the second leading natural gas pro- ducer in the United States and third leading crude oil producer when including the oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil and gas activity spans the full range of the production cycle from exploration and production to the refining, marketing, and transportation of crude oil, natural gas, and refined products. Working collaboratively with TEDA, the Houma-Terrebonne Airport attracted three new helicopter service com- panies including one of the world's leading helicopter service companies. Subsequently, this company also relocated its maintenance operations to the airport. Before the hurricanes in 2005, the airport's annual opera- tions were just over 80,000. Today, annual operations are approximately 117,000. This case study was selected to demonstrate how airports with limited resources can build a strong marketing team by working collaboratively with community organizations that share similar economic development goals. The case study also shows how awareness of the airport's role in the regional economy makes it possible to respond quickly to new business opportunities. In this instance, the relationship between the Houma- Terrebonne Airport and TEDA was a major key to success. 14.2.2 THE TERREBONNE-TEDA ALLIANCE TEDA is a relatively new organization, formed through special Louisiana legislation. Its mission is to strengthen Terrebonne's economic base through financial and technical support to retain and expand businesses in the area. TEDA is funded by a portion of state revenues collected for business licenses and has resources to engage in a variety of economic development activities in the community. This subsection contains some of the main ways in which the Houma-Terrebonne Airport and TEDA work together to promote economic develop- ment for the airport and community. REGULARLY SCHEDULED MEETINGS Regular monthly meetings are held between the Houma-Terrebonne Airport director and TEDA staff to review new business development opportunities and the status of existing opportunities. TEDA was described by the Houma-Terrebonne Airport director in a phone interview as "the organization that has the pipeline into busi- nesses in Louisiana and other parts of the country."
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Case Studies 147 JOINT PARTICIPATION AT KEY CONFERENCES Houma-Terrebonne Airport and TEDA have attended the NBAA national conference for the past 3 years where they jointly sponsor and staff a booth. This year, they will also jointly attend the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) conference. UAV has been identified as a potential strategic business opportunity. The airport has recently set aside acreage and runway access for UAV and is hoping to attract manufacturers of UAV equipment from other parts of the country to Houma-Terrebonne. FINANCIAL SUPPORT The State of Louisiana has a matching grant program for businesses engaged in marketing activities to pro- mote economic development. Through this program, the state reimburses TEDA for half of the funds spent on marketing activities that it undertakes on behalf of the airport and other local businesses. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STUDY Three years ago, TEDA completed a 35-page economic development study in conjunction with Nicholls State University. Plans are currently underway to update this study. The airport director frequently uses this study in presentations and meetings to make local government aware of the airport's impact on the community. In a recent phone interview, his advice to other airport managers was to develop an economic impact study and make key community stakeholders aware of the ways that airports provide economic benefit to the community. AIRPORT WEBSITE UPGRADE The airport currently has a dedicated website, and plans are underway to update the website through TEDA and the state's marketing matching grant program. 14.2.3 LESSONS LEARNED Houma-Terrebonne Airport is a busy general aviation airport in Louisiana with limited airport resources to pro- mote and market the airport and industrial park. However, the airport has found effective ways to extend its marketing capabilities beyond its own staff by collaborating with key community groups, directly with the local economic development organization and indirectly through Nicholls State University. TEDA is the business development funnel for the airport as well as a source of funding for marketing activities such as participation at NBAA, editorials and advertisements, and website re-design. The airport director has identified new business opportunities with offshore helicopter operations for the oil and gas exploration industry that have yielded incremental revenue streams and is currently expanding the airport's involvement with UAVs.