Driving To Deliver Your Business

Airport targeted for cargo operations in St. Joseph Co.

It looks like St. Joseph County’s economic future is ‘up in the air.’ In other words, the county’s strategy for future growth focusses on the South Bend International Airport.

“We think it really is vital that the South Shore track or the track that can service both the passenger and the freight, be located on the west side of the airport,” said St. Joseph County Economic Development Director Bill Schalliol. While the possible rerouting of the South Shore Rail Road tracks at the airport has been hailed for its impact on passengers, the same rails are quite capable of carrying freight trains.

“There are a couple of companies, I’m not sure how much I’m at liberty to say so I’m going to err on the side of caution, but we’ve got some entities that are looking at doing some international cargo here,” said St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners President Andrew Kostielney. “Somebody will have to build some bonded warehouses, there’ll be some distribution centers,” added Schalliol. “Could be billions of dollars and hundreds of jobs if positioned properly.

Some of the cargo entities said to be interested in South Bend now do business on the west side of Chicago, “which is kind of to our benefit because a lot of folks want access to the east coast and to the south and being on the other side of Chicago could be really important for us to have that,” said Kostielney. “We’re east of Chicago,” added Schalliol. “So people that would land at the airport and take commerce to the east coast don’t have to go through Chicagoland and all that traffic.” As Schalliol explained the scenario, cargo planes would fly to South Bend from international destinations, then use trucks and trains to get their goods to their final destinations.

The cargo operations would likely set up shop on land to the south and west of the air field. Meantime, if it’s a good idea to buy local, why not fly local too? A new campaign called ‘Project Propel’ encourages area businesses to use the South Bend International Airport over facilities in Chicago and Indianapolis.

“It might be £100 a flight cheaper to fly out of Midway or to fly out of Indianapolis but when you factor in the parking, and the transportation, the tolls and those things, it really ends up being, it could be cost neutral or not that much more expensive to fly locally,” said Kostielney.

It’s hoped that attracting more fliers go the airport will inspire airlines to reduce prices, fly larger planes and offer more frequent service.

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