By Kevin Bumen, SLO County Director of Airports 

Everyone knows that an airport is vital to its community. An airport brings in tourists, enables businesses to connect across the world, and allows goods to be sold in other markets.

But airports also provide essential support within the community itself, creating jobs and generating tax revenue. Until this year, San Luis Obispo County didn’t have solid figures on just how much its airport contributed economically to the region.

The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP) recently completed its first economic impact study. Performed by Volaire Aviation Consulting, the comprehensive study examined the effect the airport, its businesses and its travelers have on the region’s economy.

The results are powerful: Through a combination of providing jobs, generating taxes and bringing in visitors that play, stay and dine in the region, the airport has an incredible $85.24 million impact on San Luis Obispo County each year. The airport creates 562 full-time jobs at the airport and supports a total of 871 full-time jobs in the region. It generates $14.3 million in taxes, $6.2 million of which stay at the local or state level. SBP’s impact is so widespread that if the airport were considered a single employer, it would be the 15th largest in the county.

Tourism also has an enormous effect on the region’s economy. Visitors who arrive to San Luis Obispo County by air have an estimated $41.5 million impact in the region, as they rent cars, shop in stores and eat in restaurants. The report concluded that fly-in visitor activity is responsible for 418 jobs in San Luis Obispo County.

Much of the airport’s impact is a direct result of its commercial airline service, and that impact continues to grow as air service increases. So beyond looking at existing contributions, the Volaire study also looked at the value each new flight might bring to the region. According to the firm’s research, a new flight can bring in an additional $6.2 million in annual economic impact to San Luis Obispo County. This figure is vital to understanding why the airport works so hard to bring in new routes. It’s more than just increased convenience—airline engines are economic engines.

Additionally, every time a local resident flies out of SBP, the money generated by that seat stays in the region. If business travelers drive to LAX, the community loses the value of the ticket, the parking revenue, the jobs needed to support service and more. Flying local keeps your money local.

This economic impact study sets the baseline for what the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport contributes today. As the airport continues to grow, regional leadership will keep a close eye on the ways that the growth positively affects the community. The staff at SBP also hopes that by quantifying just how important the airport is, local businesses will continue to support its efforts to gain new routes. Each flight secured provides more money and jobs to the regional economy.

For more details from the economic impact study or to read the report in its entirety, visit

Here’s Bumen’s talk about the airport at February’s Good Morning SLO.