Southwest Airlines brings New Opportunity to Branson Despite Anti-Growth Efforts
Branson's Airport (BKG) is unique in that it is the only airport in the United States with international capacity that is privately owned.
At the end of the year it is estimated that the airport will have absorbed $60 million in operating losses - an investment gambled with one intention - that Southwest Airlines would enter the market.
Twice a year since taking office Branson's Mayor Raeanne Presley has openly and publicly criticized the airport ensuring regional news outlets distribute a foray of negative publicity in unsuccessful attempts to cripple the airport. While Presley's anti business development agenda proved a thorn in the airport's side the goal of bringing Southwest Airlines to Branson has been reached.
Much of Branson Airport's debts have been incurred to bring the discount airline's business to Branson. A company mirroring Southwest Airlines destinations was financed to prove feasibility of Branson as a profitable destination and scores of meetings were held to negotiate the travel behemoths' services which promises to bring prosperity. A Branson Airline was created for the sole purpose of emulating Soutwest Flight patterns.
Unlike the airport Presley served on the board for, the Branson Airport is not subsidized by tax dollars. In order to receive funds ($8.50 per passenger) Branson is only required to pay when an actual customer is delivered to the area and many months after their financial benefits are reaped. The initial calculations are based on extensive studies conducted on tourism and actual revenue brought per tourist to the area.
Some in Presley's camp fear that a higher demographic will not be as interested in the lesser known entertainment offerings that Branson has to offer.
They fear new business will raise wages and serve as a fiscal detriment to a minority of busines owners that aren't seeking growth nor an expanding demographic. Alas attempts to close Branson to a more prosperous group have been thwarted in one swift move.
The victory is for Branson at large and defeat to those that prefer poverty as a means to capitalize on cheap labor and limited opportunity. And while a more educated and younger crowd will do little for the mayor's private business it promises new opportunity and a new era for Branson.
Branson has been branded as a drive-to destination but the wisdom of leaders, mostly gone from public office, proved prudent as the Branson Convention Center, Branson Landing and Branson Airport have exceeded expectation. The three are interconnected as they are features national event planners need to enhance Branson's offering for a corporate and/or event market.
The Branson Landing and a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) opportunity are the financial means for the Branson Convention Center to stay afloat. An airport able to handle 737's and flight availability from anywhere in the country enhances the Branson offering, and an opportunity for the community to become more prosperous.
The combination of access to a broader population base, facilities to handle conventions and an economic engine (the Branson Landing) which has generated $100,000,000 in annual sales is brimstone to those who profit from poverty and a blessing to members of the community at large.
Branson owes a tremendous thank you to the entrepreneurs who've worked hard and invested their own funds and believe in Branson to a greater degree than the temporary leaders who've gained prosperity through marriage and heir from the true entrepreneurs of Branson's past.