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CHAPTER 3 Airport Owner/Sponsor Role Airport owners, or sponsors, as referred to by the FAA when describing airport owners, are the driving force behind most individual development projects. As the land owner, the airport sponsor establishes and sets the direction for planning related to airport development. In addition to setting the stage for airport development projects, it is important that the airport sponsor strike an appropriate balance between maximizing revenue through development and meeting the demands of the airport users and surrounding community. It is also important to remember that the primary role of the airport is to serve the current and projected aviation demands of the airport's users and surrounding community first; ancillary and nonaviation related development, no matter how financially attractive to the airport sponsor or surrounding commu- nity, are secondary considerations. Since the airport performs an important role in the support and development of a given region's population and economic base, and provides core services to its users, the airport, and its primary function of serving aviation demand, should always be consid- ered its most important asset to the local community and the surrounding region as a whole. Perhaps one of the most important roles of the airport sponsor is the coordination of appli- cable stakeholders beyond just the lessor-lessee paradigm; these stakeholders range from local, state, and federal agencies, to local community and business organizations. Stakeholders can bring valuable resources to a given project/lease agreement, and, conversely, can also present obstacles if not brought into the process early. Identification and engagement of these entities should occur at the beginning of any potential project, and their input, whether positive or neg- ative, needs to be duly considered throughout the planning and development process. Finally, the negotiation process itself will open the door to subjectivity. Therefore, any guide- line or policy must be flexible enough to accommodate the varied needs of the potential tenants, and to provide the airport sponsor with the ability to negotiate and adjust terms as needed. Flex- ibility and give-and-take from both sides of the negotiating table is often the key to the success- ful negotiation. Throughout the negotiation process, the airport sponsor should consider simple guidelines when dealing with the potential tenant. The following guidelines are excerpts from FAA/ACC Best Practices: Improving the Quality of Airport Projects (FAA/ACC, 2008): Listen actively to the extent possible, try to understand the perspective of the speaker, ask clarifying ques- tions, and repeat back to the speaker what you think was said. Show mutual professional respect. Engage in early, ongoing, and open communication. Be forthright and realistic with expectations. Be accessible. Show patience and flexibility when discussing differences. Practice timely communication. Meet professional and project commitments. 30