Small airports often play a surprisingly significant role in the economic development of a city. Unlike their larger counterparts, these airports can offer more tailored services, faster processing, and closer proximity to city centers and business districts. One prime example of such a beneficial impact can be seen in the case of Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Local Economic Catalyst

Small airports act as vital economic catalysts, directly contributing to both the immediate and extended area. By facilitating air traffic and connectivity, they attract businesses that require quick and efficient transport options for executives and critical staff. Albert Whitted Airport supports not just general aviation but also empowers local businesses by providing essential air service that is less than a mile from downtown St. Petersburg. This proximity means that business travelers can quickly transition from air travel to business meetings, enhancing productivity and efficiency.

“If Albert Whitted Airport no longer existed, we would definitely consider changing location to be more convenient to an airport that was even supported by the community. I think it’s a very important piece of the business community and it’s important for St. Pete and it’s important for our business.”

Michael Petagna
President and CEO of Alumni Financial

A person sitting at a desk

Description automatically generated


Boost to Tourism

Tourism is another significant sector positively impacted by small airports. Albert Whitted Airport, with its scenic downtown location, serves as a perfect gateway for tourists looking to explore St. Petersburg’s vibrant arts scene, beautiful waterfront parks, and world-class museums like the Salvador Dali Museum. The convenience and accessibility offered by the airport enhance the visitor experience, leading to longer stays and increased spending in the city. This influx of tourists not only fills hotels and restaurants but also supports local retail and services, broadening the economic impact.

Job Creation and Business Opportunities

Small airports are significant job creators. From direct employment opportunities at the airport itself to jobs in related industries such as hospitality, retail, and transportation, the economic benefits are considerable. Albert Whitted Airport not only employs a range of personnel for airport operations but also supports a broader economic ecosystem that includes everything from boutique hotels to gourmet bistros and a burgeoning tech sector, all of which contribute to the city’s employment rates.

“We have approximately 50 employees here. Without Albert Whitted here, the business wouldn’t be here…to continue to operate the way I want to operate it, I have to have that resource.”

Tim Russell
President, Enterprise HR Companies

A person in a blue shirt

Description automatically generated


Encouraging Business Investments

The presence of a small airport like Albert Whitted can be a key factor in business investment decisions. The ease of access to national and international destinations is a critical decision-making factor for businesses looking to expand or relocate. The airport’s ability to facilitate easy travel and cargo transport makes St. Petersburg an attractive option for new ventures and business expansions, further driving economic growth and diversity in the city’s business portfolio.

Small airports such as Albert Whitted Airport significantly impact a city’s business growth and economic landscape. They enhance connectivity, support tourism, stimulate local development, create jobs, and attract business investments, proving that even the smallest gateways can lead to substantial growth and prosperity. For St. Petersburg, Albert Whitted is a cornerstone of the city’s economic and cultural vitality.

“…having the airport in town and being so close to where I live, as well, is really, really helpful for me. I fly often around Florida to visit with clients…begin able to walk to the airport to get to the plane, to get around the state as quickly as I can was really a big factor for me.” 

Richard Green
Business Broker

A person in a suit sitting at a table

Description automatically generated