Project Propel

When local business leaders decide to make significant improvement to our competitive posture in this global environment, they take action.

A sudden increase in mature business of more than 20 percent? That’s what leaders across the region accomplished in 12 months last year. And it’s likely that the results will be $100 million in economic impact to our region every year going forward.

At a press conference held February 28, 2019 outside the offices of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership, a stunning announcement was made. “… by working together, we’ve witnessed a 20.3 percent increase in less than one year at South Bend International Airport,” said Chris Murphy, Chairman and CEO of 1st Source Bank. “This means that we’ve effectively lowered the cost of doing business for the entire region, and earned the attention of national airlines who will look seriously at providing even more services, larger aircraft and new direct connections to economic hubs across the country.”

In fact, American Airlines now offers direct flights out of SBN to national hubs in Dallas and Charlotte. It’s both good for business, and a great example of how working together impacts everyone who lives in the 47 cities and towns across our region.

Airports across the United States enjoyed average year-to-year growth of 6% last year. But that pales by comparison to what you and others pulled off in the South Bend – Elkhart region. It proves that we can make things happen. And, we’re just beginning.

What’s at stake? A larger chunk of the global economic pie and $100 million in direct impact annually to our region.

Is $100 million a year just a lofty goal? Not at all. It’s precisely how a handful of similar-sized regions across the country have been impacted by initiatives like ours.

Focusing on a goal that makes us more productive and thus competitive as a region, works. But it works best when we’re all rowing in the same direction.

The idea is to propel our regional economy into the future. That’s why we call our initiative Project Propel. And ironically, it’s less about our airport than it is about improving productivity across the board.

As John DeSalle, President of Hoosier Racing Tire, Inc., points out, “Our engineers work long hours already. They travel a lot. And the last thing I want to do is put them through
all the extra hours of driving to and from a Chicago airport. It’s tiring and it’s not a smart use of their time. We’re all more productive when we’re working. But if you’re driving, you’re not working.”

DeSalle underscores the productivity component of Project Propel. An online travel calculator at helps local business leaders see the real cost of driving to and from Chicago. It proves that 9 out of 10 times, those lower ticket prices in Chicago, are actually costing us more than we think.

Today, we’ve begun year two of the Project Propel Initiative.

We’re asking more businesses to invest in our own regional economy. We’re asking for your help growing and diversifying so we can remain a competitive force in this global economy for decades to come.

Visit today. See who’s joined this movement. There’s a great FAQ on the site, in addition to our online calculator. And download one of our single page business travel policy templates. Customize the policy however you want. And let us know you’re supporting Project Propel.

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