The senior director of commercial enterprise for the Indianapolis Airport Authority says hosting the 2020 Routes Americas conference in Indy is a big deal for the city and state. Marsha Stone, who represents the Indianapolis International Airport at the conference every year, says having the decision makers from airlines, airports and tourism organizations in Indy creates opportunities to grow economic development. This is just the third time the event has been held in the U.S. and Stone says it gives the attendees a chance to see what Indy is all about.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Stone said city and state officials understand how important the economic impact of the conference can be.
“Think of the largest companies operating in our city and in our state: Eli Lilly, Roche, Corteva, Salesforce, Genesys, Cummins,” said Stone. “I have had executives from all of those companies having one-on-one meetings and talking with airline decision makers from around the globe about the cities and the states, the countries that they’re flying to and where that connectivity is so important for them to grow their businesses, to grow business here in Indiana, add jobs in Indiana, attract and retain talent in Indiana. Having those global connections, both domestic and globally, is so important and having the folks that make those decisions here is really what’s going to make a different for our state.”
Stone cites statistics that show the conference would have an estimated $2 million in short-term economic impact and a $40 million long-term economic impact on the city and state. She says Indy was chosen to host the conference after a very selective process.
“What they saw is a collaboration. The state, the city, tourism and the airport are so aligned and they don’t necessarily see that in every destination and that alignment, that collaboration is really what helped us to stand out.”
A new element to the conference this years is the opportunity for more than two dozen Hoosier aviation students to get the chance to attend as part of the Routes America legacy program. Stone says they wanted to take advantage of the strong aviation programs throughout Indiana.
“They will be at the conference on Wednesday and those students will have a chance to interface with airline executives, with aviation professionals, and we’ve seen a lot of excitement from the airlines and the other airports of having access to these aviation students. So I think that legacy (that’s a) legacy that we’re creating and we’re encouraging Routes to take that into other cities and other destinations.”
Stone says the conference sets the stage for potential new flight options in Indianapolis.