Proposed Tax Credit Program Could Boost Pennsylvania Airport Development
Planners at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport see a future that could include opening businesses along the old runway.
Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a new program that could help companies move operations to Unity Airport or any of the state’s 121 other airports, including Pittsburgh International.
The Airport Land Development Zone (ALDZ) program is included in the recently passed Senate Bill 562, which is now before the House Finance Committee for consideration.
If passed, the program would provide tax credits to qualifying commercial or industrial employers who move into an ALDZ and create new jobs.
“This legislation will be an important part of the airport’s evolution in today’s environment,” said Gabe Monzo, executive director of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority, which operates Palmer Airport. “It will be a benefit for the airport for the development.”
Modeled on the existing Keystone Special Development Zone program, ALDZ would offer participating businesses an annual tax credit of $ 2,100 over 10 years for each new job created.
Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward R-Hempfield was among those who voted for the bill. Airports accounted for 323,000 jobs and contributed $ 28.5 million to Pennsylvania’s economy in 2019. During the covid-19 pandemic, state airports saw their revenues drop by approximately 57% , according to PennDOT.
“This common sense legislation will help reverse that trend and bring us one step closer to getting our state’s economy back on track,” Ward said.
While companies would benefit from tax credits, airports with ALDZs would have an additional business card to rent them space.
“Covid has taught us that you really need to diversify your sources of income,” said David Heath of BBP Solutions, who assists the nonprofit. Pennsylvania Aviation Council with legislative and government affairs.
Heath noted that the proposed ALDZ program has expanded. Initially limited to 22 commercial airports, those that handle more than 2,500 passengers per year on scheduled flights, eligibility has been expanded to include all public use airports in the state.
The individual ALDZs would be capped at a combined total of 4,000 acres, split evenly between commercial and non-commercial airports.
Each commercial airport could have a maximum of 300 acres designated as ALDZ. The maximum for each non-commercial airport would be 50 acres.