U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA 17th District), whose district covers portions of suburban Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh International Airport, recently visited to talk with airport leadership. He also toured part of the airport’s apiary program and sat for an interview with Blue Sky.
Q: How do you see airport infrastructure fitting into national infrastructure plans?
A: I think it’s among the highest priorities because it’s clearer and clearer these days that airports are about a lot more than just moving people where they need to go. What you see here is the airport is really the cornerstone of a lot of our economic development for the overall Pittsburgh region. If you’re trying to place your money where it’s going to have the greatest effect for the largest number of people, airports are at the top of that list.
Q: How do you view the state of the nation’s airports?
A: From what I can tell, there’s a lot of variety. What I like about Pittsburgh airport is you guys are looking at the future and making a very progressive and informed decision about what we’re really going to need and you’re going all in on it. I think that’s the smartest thing we can do.
Q: The Pittsburgh Airport Innovation Campus, the groundbreaking of which you attended, how do you see that fitting into development plans for the airport and the region?
A: The number one priority of people like me in public service has to continue to be to provide good-paying jobs for the largest number of families in our area that we can. This is an area where we are seeing some growth but we can definitely use more and so I’d like to support the campus because it has the chance to bring more jobs to this region.
Q: The whole airport corridor is filling up with business growth. What does that say about the health of the region, even specifically the airport area?
A: I think it probably confirms what a lot of us already believe to be true, which is this is a great place to do business. We’re connected to a massive amount of the U.S. market in a very short trip. We’ve got available land but we’re really close to a big and vibrant city. We have a great workforce and a tradition of work ethic in this part of the country. I think the rest of the country and world is waking up to what Pittsburgh knew for a long time, which is this is an excellent place to locate your business.
Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in Washington since you’ve been elected?
A: I think it’s that the thing we are trying to do down there is a lot larger than any one of us and it’s a lot more important than any of the conflicts you see on TV every day or that seem so pressing in the moment. And so I have been pleasantly surprised to see that there’s a lot of people down there who take the job really, really seriously and are trying to do the right thing. I don’t think the American public gets to see the good side of it as much so I try to do what I can to tell people about it in my short time in office.
Q: And about those airport bees… What’d you think about the airport apiary?
A: It’s great. It’s such a great use of land: good for the environment, good for the community just having these products available. It’s really a good example of how you guys are thinking outside the box here.