By Mark Moran | East Valley Tribune
The 1.9-million people who traveled through Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport last year generated a record $1.8-billion in economic activity for the East Valley, according to airport Executive Director Brian O’Neill.
“Most of us on staff at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport don’t think that we work at a regional airport,” O’Neill recently told the Queen Creek Economic Development Commission.
“We think that we work at a 3,000-acre economic development project that just happens to have three, 10,000-foot runways and a thriving regional airport as part of our infrastructure,” he added.
“Most airports our size, with around 2-million passengers, just don’t have the opportunity to play that economic development role.
“Our most important job is as a job creator,” O’Neill said. “Serving as an economic catalyst. Queen Creek has been a really good partner and an ally.”
Gateway is a former Air Force base – which is why it has a large runway configuration the size of Phoenix Sky Harbor.
It is operated by the Williams Gateway Airport Authority and overseen by a six-member board that includes Queen Creek Mayor Julia Wheatley.
“Having the Phoenix-Mesa GatewayAirport so close to the town is definitely a draw, particularly for businesses,” Wheatley told the Tribune.