Friday, October 25, 2013

Better air service protects local jobs


By NED POST


    Tourism is not the only source of local jobs that will benefit from better air service here.
    Longtime businesses like Power Engineers, Smith Optics and others provide full-time, professional jobs for locals in the valley. Declining air service to Friedman Memorial Airport has reached a critical turning point. Recently, two of our strongest employers, Eye Safety Systems and Scott USA, made decisions to shift jobs away from the valley due to the challenges of poor air service, which results in higher costs and inefficiencies. Those payrolls were substantial and, under the current situation, almost impossible to replace. Our economy suffers when companies migrate away.


Our economy suffers when
companies
migrate away.


    I can’t emphasize enough, better air service is necessary if our business and those like us are to remain in the valley. Without more nonstop flights and lower fares, these businesses and the local jobs they provide aren’t sustainable here. Our business, like Scott USA and Eye Safety Systems, will have to make a choice about continuing to operate sustainably or remaining in the Wood River Valley.
    While it’s a good start, the one-year contract flight to San Francisco is a short-term agreement. For business planning purposes, a larger commitment to air service is critical. That is why we are in strong support of the 1 percent increase to the local option tax in Ketchum.
    With a pool of funds dedicated to improving air service and marketing seats on nonstop flights, air service at Friedman becomes much more feasible and dependable for businesses like ours. Funds from the LOT can be used to ensure the new San Francisco flight will be available beyond just one year. Funding from the LOT will provide additional new flight options as well. Our business can plan to keep the good full-time jobs we now have and even consider growing the number of jobs for locals.
    Please support local jobs and tourism by voting in favor of the LOT increase on Nov. 5.


    Ned Post is the president of Ketchum-based Smith Optics, a leading eyewear and sports equipment company.




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