Early travelers first glimpsed Cincinnati from the Ohio River. After floating for days through wilderness, they would suddenly come upon a bustling city sprawled on a broad river basin. As the original gateway to an expanding frontier, Cincinnati capitalized on its centralized location to become a transportation hub for the burgeoning nation. Ever since, transportation has helped define the region—through the eras of steamboats and railroads, to the modern era of highways and skyways. It is critical that the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region remain focused on ensuring the health and vibrancy of our transportation network to strengthen our region’s competitiveness, facilitate continued economic development and embrace innovations in transportation.

For 70 years, CVG has had a proud history of helping to support the region’s growth and success. Over the last decade, as the aviation industry has undergone radical change, CVG has likewise had to reinvent itself.

2016 was remarkable on all levels for CVG, with every carrier seeing year-over-year growth. Local traffic rose 13 percent, while total traffic grew 7 percent. Since 2013, local passengers have grown more than 38 percent. Increased competition among carriers has resulted in CVG dropping to No. 40 in the national airfare ranking. Passengers now pay $150 less on average than two years ago. 2017 promises to be just as great, with Southwest adding service starting June 4.

Cargo volume also hit an all-time high in 2016, making CVG the eighth-largest cargo airport in North America. This was prior to the completion of DHL’s $108 million expansion—setting the pace for more growth to come.

Amidst all these developments, CVG’s annual economic impact now stands at $4.4 billion, having increased more than 22 percent over the last 36 months. The airport now accounts for 8,500 direct jobs and supports a total of more than 31,000 jobs throughout the region.

Like other businesses, we have worked hard to decrease expenses while increasing revenues through initiatives such as land development. Following the success of the 52-acre Wayfair project, we have four new developments underway totaling more than 74 acres. As a result of these and other initiatives over the last four years we have been able to reduce the landing fees charged to carriers by 44 percent.

Just as a vibrant airport makes for a stronger region, CVG’s success, in turn, is dependent on the community to support a shared transportation vision. It is important for decision makers and community advocates to continue to join forces to support regional infrastructure improvements that move people and goods within and through our region. Connectivity and the nurturing of a strong transportation eco-structure are required to meet our community’s true economic development potential.

Our new five-year strategic plan positions CVG to remain an essential part of the region’s overall growth and success. On behalf of the board and the entire CVG team, we remain grateful for the community’s continued support of our efforts. I invite you to learn more about our future at CVGairport.com/progress.

Candace McGraw is CEO of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. McGraw has over 25 years experience in aviation, legal affairs and public administration. Prior to leading the CVG staff, she served in a number of positions at the Cleveland Airport System, and served as general counsel for Cleveland City Council and deputy director of charitable gaming for the Ohio Lottery Commission.