Western Michigan Scores Big

Paul Bowers

No, I'm not talking football. But there's something brewing at airports in the western part of Michigan that's worth cheering for. Gerald R. Ford International (GRR) and West Michigan Regional (BIV) have found a new funding mechanism that doesn't involve AIPs, PFCs or local taxes of any persuasion. Rather, the airports are generating funds for airport projects from donations. That's right, voluntary financial support is coming from local businesses, charitable organizations and community members to help build new facilities at the airports.

Something of this magnitude is much more involved than simply opening a post office box to collect checks as they pour in. To start, airports have to demonstrate the need for funds and build high levels of communication and trust with their communities. There also needs to be visionaries in place, both at the airport and in the business community, to explain why private donations are needed and will provide a return on investment. For an airport director, this is out-of-the-box thinking. Finding leaders from the business community who will not only champion airport projects but also go the extra mile and spearhead fundraising efforts is unheard of and deserves our attention and applause. Could your airport pull this off?  Click to read about how BIV and GRR view the fundraising process in this issue. 

Need something else to chew on? How about SARA, that's service animal relief areas. In August 2015, the Transportation Department set forth a final rule requiring at least one post-security relief area for each terminal. The rule gave airports until August 2016 to comply. In the final rule, DOT decided not to adopt specific requirements for size, design, materials or maintenance requirements. And as we've all heard many times, "When you've seen one airport, you've seen one airport." While some SARAs follow the letter of the law, others have gone above and beyond, providing for the animals, as well as owners with disabilities. Touché. Please read our SARA story here.

So ends the final issue of an incredible year. Thanks to all of our readers at airports, consulting firms and the companies that supply them with vital products. Thank you to our advertisers. And thank you to everyone on the Airport Improvement team who has brought you each issue of the magazine.


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