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Plan to offer flights from St. Cloud to Chicago takes off

A plan for bringing air service to St. Cloud has been set, and now city leaders say it's time for it to take flight.

Today, the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation (GSDC) officially kicks off a joint effort with the City of St. Cloud and the St. Cloud Regional Airport to secure travel spending partnership agreements from regional businesses. The goal is to obtain $5 million for the first year in partnership agreement commitments, which is key in helping attract a carrier for twice-daily flights between St. Cloud (STC) and O'Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago.

"The Greater St. Cloud region needs air service to help drive economic growth and development. Air service will help generate $17+ million in expected annual economic impact and will make the region a more attractive location with affordable and convenient access to national and international destinations," said GSDC spokesperson Al Kremers. "I'm confident we have the right plan, the right team and the right economic climate to make this happen."

GSDC has been working closely with consultants who specialize in bringing air service to similar markets. In addition, GSDC's CEO John Kramer was instrumental in expanding air service, adding hubs, and attaining more competitive rates when he led the Fargo Cass County Economic Development and Great Falls (MT) Development corporations in 1999 and 2005, respectively.

"We need regional air service in the St. Cloud area," said Mayor Dave Kleis. "People recognize that air service between St. Cloud and Chicago will bring huge benefits and allow us to compete on a global level." Just as important, Kleis adds, is the research that shows St. Cloud has the population base to support regional air service, plus the City of St. Cloud received a $750,000 U.S. Department of Transportation grant to help bring the air service here. The St. Cloud terminal has been recently upgraded and offers free parking and Wi-Fi, making travel in and out of St. Cloud extremely convenient.

Over the next couple of weeks, members of the GSDC air service initiative team look forward to meeting one-on-one with business leaders in the region. They will be asking businesses to commit to allocating some of their travel budget toward using the STC-to-ORD service during its start-up phase. These commitments will help achieve the $5 million goal.

"We're ready to go and there's a lot of energy surrounding this initiative," said Kremers. "We look forward to the start our official outreach efforts and giving people the chance to show their support."

About the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation

The Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation is a private-sector, member-based organization created to lead economic development for the benefit of the greater St. Cloud community. The organization has established five key initiatives: attracting regional air service, supporting innovation, retaining and attracting talent, promoting regional economic development, creating a vibrant downtown, and supporting a healthy and productive workforce.