But, it is just the beginning. For too long SZT, as it is known to aviators as our airport identifier, has been ignored, overlooked and even maligned as a “rich man’s playground.” “blight,” “nuisance” and so on. In reality, our airport is a vital transportation resource that has the potential to be the economic engine that drives our local economy. Considering the current state of financial affairs in this county and in this country, I submit that the time has come for local leaders, both government and business, to unite in a concerted effort to “take back our airport” and insure it is developed into the resource that it should be. They will need the help of all of us; leaders, business people, citizens, all.
In the past, SZT has operated for general aviation purposes and has benefited private aviation and very limited commercial operations. Private activity has flourished as it should; but the shameful lack of development and poor management which denied commercial interests lies squarely on the shoulders of past city and county officials including mayors, councilmembers and commissioners. Petty bickering, self interest and finger pointing as well as indifference, have denied local citizens growth opportunities and robbed our treasuries of funds that could and should have been generated at SZT for years. How wrong … and how sad!
Today, we have in Quest Aviation, an incredible business asset for the city of Sandpoint which currently employs approximately 200 people with the potential to employ 200 more when full production capability is realized. Not only will these jobs help to favor a revitalized local economy but the product they bring to market will attract even more business for our area. Believe me, other communities are salivating at the prospect of our failure to protect and grow SZT as a home for Quest as well as for other commercial activities. Without question, Quest is a glowing example of what can be right about our airport and, in my opinion, we better be working hard to make them feel welcome.
Read the full version of this article at Bonner County Daily Bee.com