Economic impact of Richard County’s Hamilton-Owens Airport tops $16 million

A new study by a statewide organization shows Richland County’s airport contributes $16.1 million annually to the local economy.

In its 2018 Statewide Aviation Economic Impact Report, the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission (SCAC) studied the financial effects of each of the state’s six commercial airports and 51 general aviation airports, like the County’s Jim Hamilton-L.B. Owens Airport (CUB). The report analyzed key factors like employment, payroll, annual spending, visitor spending and capital investments.

“The latest news regarding the economic impact of the Hamilton-Owens Airport on our community underscores the importance of how Richland County’s investment in our transportation infrastructure pays impressive dividends,” said Richland County Councilman Greg Pearce, District 6, who serves as the County Council Airport Liaison. “The numbers far exceed even our best expectations.”

The single-runway, 182-acre airport is located in the Rosewood community, near the University of South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium. One of the airport’s busiest times of year is during college football season, when fans fly in to attend games.

The SCAC study found that 14,195 visitors arrive in South Carolina annually by way of the Jim Hamilton-L.B. Owens Airport. Those visitors spend money in the local economy on lodging, food, ground transportation and entertainment, contributing to the airport’s indirect economic impact. The airport contributes to 116 total area jobs and annual tax revenues estimated at $688,900.

Richland County Airport Commission Chairman Stuart Hope said the study’s findings came as no surprise.

“Hamilton-Owens is one of the best run general aviation airports in the state and its strategic location close to downtown Columbia makes it an even stronger economic engine for the County and surrounding area,” Hope said.

The Aeronautics Commission notes that the Jim Hamilton-L.B. Owens Airport’s “annual economic impact far exceeds its annual financial need for maintenance and improvement” and shows the airport is “well worth the investment.” The SCAC report information is available online at