CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - A new $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be used to market and support existing air services at the university's Willard Airport in Savoy.
"Winning this grant is another example of what can be achieved by the community and university working together," said Steve Schomberg, vice chancellor for public engagement at Illinois. "Congressman Tim Johnson and his staff also were a tremendous help in this achievement."
The grant, announced Aug. 30, comes from the transportation department's Small Community Air Service Development Program, which was established to provide small communities with financial and other types of assistance to address air-service issues.
The grant request was submitted by the university on behalf of a public-private partnership comprising the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation and the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau. In early 2004, the partnership committed funds to bring Delta Air Lines to Willard, whose airport designation is CMI. The grant will augment funds committed by the partnership for the "FlyCMI" campaign structured to promote the airport. Delta began service to CMI on May 14, 2004, joining American Airlines, Northwest Airlines and American Connection in providing air travel to the Champaign-Urban region.
"Willard Airport is a tremendous facility for air travelers, and an indispensable asset to this community and state of Illinois," Johnson said. "As a member of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, I have made it a top priority to work toward the continued improvement and expansion of Willard Airport. We are very fortunate in Champaign County to have seen an increase in flights and airlines at Willard, and furthering that growth will only bode well for the university, Champaign County and the entire region."