Users of the airport have to sell it as more than just a playground for a bunch of pricks. They have to have more than the "it brings some burger eaters". For example: many small airports in this country that I know of, since in this country are few and far between, actually have users from a wider area. For example, at my home field there are airplane owners who live up to an hour away from the airport which means the airport is bringing people from a wider area which make use of the town's business. Since many small town businesses rely on a local demand any transient customers is a bonus.How do we raise this to being priority 20 out of 10, let alone in the top 10?
Small airports also have to welcome any kind of business that can work symbiotically with the airport. Car rental lots, Restaurants, B&B, stuff that will attract use of the airport. It should be said that there is a substantial demand for commercial operators to use airports in this country, but as one, I would say that we avoid places because they're unsuitable. No fuel, no parking, no approaches, no terminal. Not to mention unfriendly locals who too often treat public airports like they're private ones.
I would also say it should be stressed that as part of an area's infrastructure, the airport frequently doesn't require as much resources compared to the money it generates. The runway and taxiways are only an extra mile or two of asphalt out of how many miles a county or MD may be already removing snow from? The same could be said for the grass. It strikes me as crazy that an airport might be looking at purchasing its own maintenance equipment when there's a whole yard of stuff already being paid for by the taxpayer to maintain their stuff. But that's the kicker, you have to get the taxpayer to look at the place like it benefits them. Pull at their heart strings, an airport is also a part of the community's emergency infrastructure. They make ideal staging areas for any disaster relief, and increase a community's ability to access medical services. Engage your airport with the local emergency services, there's nothing they like more than to find excuses to do "training" if it involves airplanes or helicopters. The more people you can get who think of the airport positively, the better. Get the public out to the airport. Give tours to kids and schools, get some sort of events going.
Lastly I would say that our aviation community in general needs to find out where politicians stand on aviation. They do this in the U.S. where AOPA regularly publishes lists of airplane friendly and un-friendly people in power. Maybe COPA could start doing this if they can get out that wet paper bag that's holding them back now.