Regional Leaders Support Major Infrastructure Project: Economic Benefit to be Felt Swiftly

Elkhart, Indiana (March 28, 2018) – During a press conference this morning at the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce, major supporters of the regional infrastructure project called Project Propel were announced. The announcement signals an end to the Project’s quiet phase and the beginning of the public phase.

Levon Johnson, President and CEO of the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce began the press conference by pointing out that leaders from Berrien County, Michigan, and Marshall and St. Joseph Counties in Indiana were in the room to show their mutual support. “Project Propel is about building infrastructure for all of us – vital infrastructure that will keep us competitive with other regions across the country and around the world.”

The success of Project Propel is driven by organizations adopting voluntary policies that encourage business travelers to consider South Bend International Airport (SBN), as a first choice for air travel.  Currently, SBN captures 40 percent of the business travel emanating from the region. The remaining 60 percent leaks out to other airports like O’Hare and Midway in Chicago.

Early supporters of the initiative, which promises to expand direct flights to and from this region were shared with the media.  “This is about protecting the economic assets we already enjoy in our region and eliminating transportation bottlenecks that slow or impede our growth,” commented Lou Pierce, who is consulting on the project.  “Dozens of companies and organizations from across the region already support Project Propel as a fast and simple way to boost our regional economy and improve our competitive posture.”

“There’s an illusion that you save money on business travel by going to O’Hare or Midway,” says Pierce.  “SBN has an online calculator on the Project Propel website ( which can be used to calculate the real costs of flying out of Chicago as opposed to flying local.  The calculator includes tolls, mileage, parking and lost productivity.  Even with a ticket price difference of $300, you’re usually saving money as a business traveler by going through SBN.”

When the Grand Rapids, Michigan region promoted their own version of Project Propel, the positive economic impact to their region was $100 million in the first year alone.  That’s precisely what Project Propel promises to do for this region.

“We have businesses in our region that export products and import people and money,” added Chris Murphy, Chairman and CEO of 1st Source Bank and advocate for Project Propel.  “Those businesses need a vibrant airport.  And it doesn’t matter where it’s located in our region.  There just needs to be a strong airport that connects us with the world.”

The list of companies and organizations already supporting Project Propel was developed during the quiet phase of the project.  They include:

1st Source Bank
Inova Federal Credit Union
Teacher’s Credit Union
Beacon Health System
Saint Joseph Regional Health System
South Bend Medical Foundation
Kem Krest
Lippert Components
The University of Notre Dame
Cornerstone Alliance
Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce
The Renaissance District
Hoosier Racing Tire
The Elkhart Convention and Visitors Bureau
The St. Joseph County Convention and Visitors Bureau
The Community Foundation of Elkhart County
The Elkhart County Economic Development Corporation
South Bend–Elkhart Regional Partnership
The Marshall County Economic Development Corporation
The South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce
Moody on the Market (Pat Moody)

“One of the key pillars of our Regional Economic plan is infrastructure,” added Regina Emberton, President and CEO of the South Bend – Elkhart Partnership.  “We’ve done a great job with our digital infrastructure, but we cannot ignore the vital role that our air transportation system plays. Project Propel addresses that role in a powerful way.”

Local business leaders are encouraged to view the video at, and download the Fly Local First travel policy. Completed policies should be returned to Julie Curtis at [email protected].

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