Local Control of Ontario Airport Huge for IE
This week Los Angeles and Ontario came to an agreement to transfer the Ontario Airport back to local control. The airport, which is controlled by Los Angeles World Airports, is essential to the Inland Empire’s recovering economy. Leaders in the Inland Empire have asserted that LAWA intentionally diverted traffic from ONT to LAX. As a result, the Inland Empire economy suffered.
John Husing, chief economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, has said that the transfer of ONT back to local control could bring as much as $1 billion back into the local economy. Local control of the airport has the potential bring in more flights, more cargo and more passenger traffic.
The Inland Empire has risen as Southern California’s logistics haven, with new warehouses being proposed or built in almost every city. An increase in cargo traffic at the Ontario Airport could fuel the logistics industry, creating more warehousing jobs and bring more income to the Inland Empire.
But perhaps the biggest prospect of the transition is the opportunity for new businesses to move to the Inland Empire. Currently, the Inland Empire lacks abundant white-collar jobs. Office space in the Inland Empire is in relatively low demand. Meanwhile in Orange County, developers are building a 20-story office building to accommodate the backlog of businesses looking for space.
A strong ONT could attract business to the region. There is a surplus of office space in the Inland Empire, much of it new and in desirable locations, that is available for interested parties. Ontario already has a premiere convention center a stone’s throw from the airport, which can easily accommodate corporate conventions.
Local leaders need to take advantage of the opportunity before them. The Ontario Airport could become an economic engine for the Inland Empire. Local leaders must take appropriate steps to build traffic at the airport and ensure that local policies make it easy for new businesses to set up shop in the Inland Empire.