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KALAMAZOO, MI — The United States Department of Transportation has granted the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport (AZO) a $500,000 grant to expand air service in the coming year. Airport officials are expected to use the grant, along with more than $300,000 in local matches, to attract daily direct flights to and from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport or another southbound hub.

The Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act, administered by the Department of Transportation, has awarded 29 communities in 22 states financial grants under the Small Community Air Service Development Program. This program is designed to help smaller communities enhance their air services and address issues related to high airfares. Communities with established public-private partnerships were given priority consideration.

“Our success in securing this grant was the direct result of incredible local support,” said Airport Director Clifton Moshoginis. “The work that our business and governmental communities have put into our efforts, along with the financial contributions, highlights the Department of Transportation’s belief in the strong performance of this airport, both in the short and long term.”

Southwest Michigan First advocated on behalf of the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport as it aligns with its outreach efforts to attract new business and support the region’s larger corporations with locations or significant business operations in the southern United States. Southwest Michigan First’s contribution to the effort will include marketing support and advisory services.

“Our number one goal right now is to increase the impact of Southwest Michigan on the global economy. Having a competitive and vibrant airport that offers excellent customer service and satisfaction weighs heavily on our ability to do so,” said Ron Kitchens, Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Michigan First.

The grant and local matches — totaling $823,170 — don’t guarantee that the service will be added. “This type of incentive typically goes a long way toward convincing a carrier that we will support them in their service expansion,” said Moshoginis. “We’re optimistic.”

According to Moshoginis, the Aeronautics Board, an Air Service Expansion and Retention Committee, and Southwest Michigan First combined forces with area businesses and governments to secure the grant. “This is something they work on year-’round,” said Moshoginis. “Our staff and consultants also did an excellent job on this specific project.”

About the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport – Serving Southwest Michigan, the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport (AZO) offers over 30 daily arrivals and departures to connect you to most worldwide destinations conveniently and cost effectively from a variety of carriers including: American Eagle (Chicago O’Hare), Delta Airlines (Detroit/Minneapolis), and Direct Air (Ft. Myers/Punta Gorda & Orlando/Sanford). Over one half million passengers use AZO annually to take advantage of its competitive airfares, convenient parking, short and timely check-in lines and connection options. Learn more at www.azoairport.com.

About Southwest Michigan First – 
Southwest Michigan First is an organization of privately funded economic development advisors who act as the catalyst for economic success in Southwest Michigan. Founded in 1999 on the principle that jobs and wealth creation exponentially affect the region’s future sustainability, it has since worked with its clients to create over 32,000 jobs and $3 billion in wealth for the community- and dramatically increase their bottom lines. Southwest Michigan First has engaged with more than 10,000 contacts across all industries on the advantages of the eight counties making up the Southwest Michigan Region. For more information about Southwest Michigan First, please visit us at www.southwestmichiganfirst.com, or call 269.553.9588.

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