Economic and Community Contributions of Merrill Field Airport

The Question

How does Merrill Field Airport (MRI) contribute to the Anchorage and broader Alaskan economies in terms of direct and indirect jobs, wages, and non-wage and benefit expenditures? With what types of aviation services and opportunities does MRI uniquely serve the Anchorage community?

Our Approach

We comprehensively surveyed and interviewed on-site leaseholders at MRI and off-site organizations with significant ties to the airport to determine the direct economic contributions of the airport and to distill MRI’s unique role in the Anchorage community. We then applied IMPLAN™ multipliers to output expenditures by leaseholders, as well as by the Municipality of Anchorage for airport operations, to estimate the airport’s indirect and induced economic contributions.


Our analyses were a major component of MRI’s Airport Master Plan, which will help guide development decisions for the airport for the next 20 years. This includes identification of projects for which MRI may seek capital funding through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program.

Northern Economics assessed the economic and social importance of Merrill Field Airport (MRI) as part of the Merrill Field Airport Master Plan Update and Noise Study and to support the airport’s potential application for grant money through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Plan. We administered a survey to MRI’s on-site commercial leaseholders, as well as airport management, to measure their employment and capital and operating expenditure levels for 2014. We then applied IMPLAN output, employment, and income multipliers to direct capital and operating expenditure totals to estimate the airport’s indirect and induced economic impacts. Finally, we conducted extensive interviews with off-site organizations with significant ties to MRI to qualitatively and more comprehensively capture the airport’s unique economic and social importance to Anchorage residents and others who rely on its broad array of services.