Saturday, February 25, 2006

Snapshot of the local economy

Once a month, the Grand Forks Herald publishes an interesting column in which local economist (and former State Board of Higher Education member) Ralph Kingsbury analyzes the Greater Grand Forks economy. Check out the current column which came out in today's paper. Grand Forks Life readers might find it interesting since it shows that, in the words of Mr. Kingsbury, "we must conclude that business has faith in Grand Forks." Except for the ongoing low boarding numbers at Grand Forks International Airport, the column is quite an upbeat snapshot of where our city stands early in 2006.


JGS said...

Well it's good to read that the Grand Forks economy is on the rise.

The only concern I have is with the airport. They really need to come up with a huge plan for it or else it's going to continue getting beat by Fargo's airport. GFK is an important airport for business people looking for new opportunities inside Grand Forks and is very important to new businesses looking into Grand Forks. If action isn't taken soon, GFK is going to be down sized and it will hurt us.

Brooks said...

When I used GFK at thanksgiving, i was really surprised at how small and "not nice" it was. Back at Minot, we have a bigger,newer, nicer airport. We also only have about 10,000 less boardings than GFK. I realize Fargo takes alot of the travelers from Grand Forks, but GFK really is pitiful. And if it wasnt for all the UND action out there, im sure it would be worse. With Bismarck having 3 airlines now, maybe GFK could get another. United would be nice but I wont get my hopes up.

GrandForksGuy said...

The funny thing about GFK is that it is an underutilized airport and has a small, outdated terminal, but...due almost entirely to the presecence of UND Aerospace...GFK was the 44th busiest airport in the country in 2004 and has, in the past, cracked the top ten busiest. It's such an odd contradiction.

Anonymous said...

Obviously Mr.Kingsbury hasn't sought employment in Grand Forks recently.

UND Student said...

Coming from my city, I never thought anything bad about Grand Forks Airport. I thought it was clean and appropriate for a town of this size. The eatery at the airport is old fashioned and not appealing, but the airport seems great! I have no complaints about the airport... it's much better than SEA-TAC (except for the newly renovated section).

I have stopped using GFK though... ticket prices are just ridiculously expensive. Where an airline has a monopoly, you can never expect a fair price. I usually take the train all the way to Seattle, OR, I take the train to MSP and fly out of there (as I am doing for spring break). Unless I was really short of time, I wouldn't fly out of GFK. Simply not worth the money.

drunk said...

Cheapest flight I see between MSP -> GFK is $217 on Northwest. Not the greatest fare, but not as bad as some of the others. Just for comparison, a flight from Sacramento to Los Angeles is $123 round trip on United. Airfares within the US are just more expensive these days. :(

I'm surprised that nobody has ever tried running a smaller charter airline to do shuttle flights between the two points.
Besides UND, it looks like FedEx has a few aircraft there as well. I saw a Boeing 727-F sitting on the ramp last time I flew into GFK. There were also a handful of feeder aircraft sitting around.
It's a small airport and is probably in need of an overhaul, but it could be worse. You guys oughta see our airports here - the San Jose International Airport is pretty dismal. Only a handful of actual jetways are used. Most of the flights use the older 1 story terminal, and passengers are handled on the ramp. Another airport of similar size, the Sacramento International Airport (SMF) still has a very ugly old terminal. A new terminal was built but it serves only Southwest, if I recall correctly.

Where was I going with this? I totally forgot. Anyway, I'll still fly into Grand Forks when we visit. :-)

Brooks said...

i guess just from always seeing the nice GFK sign on highway 2, i expected a bigger airport. with nwa cutting flights and its uncertainty though, its hard to say which direction gfk is headed. i still think if they could get united, and have direct flights to denver, it would help alot tho.

GrandForksGuy said...

Having a brand new terminal, as has been proposed recently, would be really nice. The pricetag is very high the tens of millions (although I think the federal government would pick up a large portion of that).

I recently heard of a proposal made years ago (1960s?...1970s?) that would have seen a large new airport built in Hillsboro, ND that would have replaced both GFK and Hector in Fargo. It's an interesting idea, but probably not the greatest thing for either community. Hillsboro is a bit of a drive from both cities.

JGS said...

It's really sad to see that prices are that high to fly in and out of GFK. No wonder it's in a downfall. It's time to take action, if nothing is going to be done about this, we'll soon see GFK downsized to something smaller and get beat out by Hector by a long shot. Like Brooks said, bring in a new flight like United, it actually might help GFK get out of this slump. If not United, bring in something other then NWA.

I want to see GFK up there with Hector, having flights in and out of GFK to let's say Las Vegas and much more. It's really annoying to some people having to fly/drive out of Grand Forks to Minneapolis just to get to their next destination.

drunk said...

Stockton, CA is a city of nearly 250,000 people. It has a pretty good sized airport that now has *no* scheduled airline service. America West was the last airline to fly into Stockton.
Stockton is at least 1.5 hours from the Sacramento International Airport, and at least 1.5 hours from SFO.

Maybe someone (the mayor) needs to write to United Airlines or do *something* to try and woo another carrier into the GFK area?

Anonymous said...

I have been following Fargo's efforts to bring in additional airlines for a couple years (see link) and it's much more complicated than you would think. It's my hope (call me glass-half full) that as Grand Forks grows with Canad, Alerus, Ralph, new and growing industries/businesses, etc. that the airline industry would respond accordingly. However, most airlines see numbers and even during World Juniors, Northwest would not schedule additional flights. Many people I know fly in and out of Winnipeg (closer than Mpls and less expensive).

-Glass Half Full