TRI Contributes $233 Million to Region’s Economy

Blountville, Tenn. – Tri-Cities Airport (TRI) had a $233 million economic impact on the region and brought in more than 80,000 visitors in 2019, according to a report from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).

The report shows the airport’s positive contribution to the region’s economy supported $80,617,000 in payroll and more than $109 million in visitor spending.

“We are honored to serve Northeast Tennessee and to be a catalyst for the economy,” said Gene Cossey, Tri-Cities Airport Authority (TCAA) executive director. “Our service territory also covers Southwest Virginia, and portions of western North Carlina and eastern Kentucky. We know our economic impact is greater than what is shown in this study as we serve a larger region.”

TRI is home to 28 companies that employ more than 400 individuals who live throughout the region. These companies include federal organizations, local businesses, airlines, rental car companies, food and retail services, and other aviation-related businesses.

TDOT recently completed a year-long Statewide Aviation Economic Impact Study, finding Tennessee’s public-use airports contribute $40 billion to the state’s economy and support 220,936 jobs in Tennessee.

“A safe, secure, efficient, and resilient aviation system is essential to our state’s physical, economic, and social health,” said Michelle Frazier, director of TDOT’s Aeronautics Division. “This report recognizes aviation as a driver of the economy, including economic recovery.”

TRI is in TDOT’s Region 1 in East Tennessee. The geographical area covers 24 counties and is home to 15 of the state’s 78 airports.

Airports in Region 1 have almost 300 employees and are home to 80 businesses, which range from air transportation and aviation manufacturing to rescue, fire, and law enforcement. The on-airport businesses employ more than 4,000 people.

“Tennessee’s 78 public-use airports are critical components of the state’s transportation network, linking and providing access to regional, national, and global transportation systems,” said TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright.

TDOT said the study is a good representation of the annual economic impact of the aviation system during a non-pandemic period.

The study analyzed the economic impacts of on-airport activities, off-airport activities, multiplier impacts, and freight/cargo. Examples of on-airport activities include economic impacts from business tenants, airport construction spending, and airport employment. Off-airport impacts include visitor spending. Visitor spending generated 69,965 jobs and $9 billion in business revenue to the state in 2019. Analysis found that freight/cargo impacts generated 82,357 jobs and $19 billion in business revenue.

The Executive Summary may be found at