Excelsior finalist: Rockford airport: A success story

ROCKFORD (WREX) – A thick blanket of snow covers most of the Stateline and the cold is here to stay.

Yesterday’s snowfall was record-breaking for Rockford.  The old record for snowfall in town (recorded at Chicago Rockford International Airport) was 3.3″ set back in 1977.  Yesterday’s total was nearly three times larger: 11.7″ recorded.  That brings out total snowfall for the month of November to 15.6″ for Rockford.

If you must get out on the roadways this morning, just be aware that snow-covered roads are a very good likelihood, especially on secondary roads.  Take it easy this morning and give yourself plenty of time to get to your morning destinations.  As the day progresses, road conditions should improve.

Sunday’s snow is continuing to push to the east, with the last band of snow impacting Chicago.  While the snow does move out, the cold air is quick to move in.  Temperatures are likely to remain in the 20’s through the day today.  The wind will also be picking up, which will add insult to injury.  Wind chills through the afternoon will likely remain in the teens thanks to that blustery wind out of the northwest gusting to 30 MPH at times.  The wind will eventually subside as the evening hours progress, but those temperatures are going to bottom out near-10 degrees tonight.  Even though winds will relax a bit overnight, wind chills will still be near-0.  Make sure you bundle up if you’re going to be out later this evening.

The trend going forward suggests the cold weather is going nowhere anytime soon.  Through much of this week, temperatures remain in the 20’s for highs.  It looks like we finally begin to climb out of the icebox by late-week.  The weather does remain quiet through much of this week as high pressure builds in behind Sunday’s snowfall.

The Excelsior has been given annually since 1979 to an organization that exemplifies community service and excellence, and that works to make a difference in the Rock River Valley. The Chicago Rockford International Airport is an Excelsior finalist.

What the nominator said: “Cities are termed the engines of civilization. The engines of a city are many and none are more important than a vibrant transportation infrastructure led by a sustaining and growing airport. We observe, with satisfaction and gratitude, the growth and enormous economic and social impact of RFD. The support of the entire community, buy-in at the state and federal levels, plus private company investment, represent a success story that keeps repeating due to the tireless efforts of many and the Greater Rockford Airport Authority.

RFD provides convenient, user-friendly air service to multiple vacation destinations. We continue to work hard to secure more routes and to seek European routes. Our passenger analysis shows use by travelers from an approximately 150-mile radius. UPS and our cargo handling and MRO partners provide hundreds of private employment jobs, and the expansion of these operations will create hundreds of new jobs. We foresee tremendous growth over the next three years. Cargo flights during this holiday season will be approximately 60 air freighters per day.

Maintaining focus on our core mission of economic development, and increasing our passenger options. Because O’Hare is so close, our ability to compete on commercial passenger routes is limited. Because O’Hare is so close, we are able to more than efficiently compete on dedicated cargo operations. Ultimately, good economics will win out. One of our goals is to maintain our economic advantages.

In 2011, we hired the premier national aviation industry search firm to seek a new director. The firm did a nationwide search resulting in 50 candidates. We agreed that not one of them had any likelihood of producing the timely results we all sought and this community needed.

It was determined that our executive director, Michael P. Dunn Sr., might just be the man for the job. This was a correct decision. Mike and his staff went to work, and I think the results speak for themselves. The financial, logistical and political challenges were seemingly insurmountable. Watching and participating in a successful navigation and execution of intergovernmental partnerships and cooperation, and the private sector assistance and buy-in to the program is very gratifying. An aerial photograph of the airport from five years ago shows massive physical changes. The economic impact can’t really be shown in a photo and grows each year. The board feels this is the real legacy, and that is what makes our efforts worthwhile.


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