Grow Cedar Valley Air Service Working Group Update

posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 in Grow Cedar Valley

David Deeds, Grow Cedar Valley Air Service Working Group ChairWritten by Grow Cedar Valley Air Service Working Group Member, David Deeds

Committees can be agents of positive energy and change or they can be a monthly book report club.  Show up once a month, listen and think nothing of it again until the next month. The Grow Cedar Valley Chamber Council wants to be a change agent rather than the book report club. 

Surveys and focus groups conducted by Grow Cedar Valley during their visioning and rebranding discussions reported that viable commercial passenger jet service was important to economic vitality and growth of the region. A hallmark of a vibrant and growing region is commercial passenger jet air service.  

The convergence of the desire to be a change agent and the community desire for improved local air service led to the formation of the Grow Cedar Valley Air Service Working Group (ASWG). 

Members of the Chamber Council and others from across the Cedar Valley have come together working to effect this change.  The ASWG began meeting in February 2019 and it has had a busy year. Activities of ASWG over the past year include:

  1. Developed working group objectives, work plan and consulted similar communities regarding their strategy for improving air service.
  2. Requested and obtained the City of Waterloo financial support to provide updated market and leakage study.
  3. Developed and collected Grow CV Air Service Survey that confirmed the Cedar Valley wants and needs to do better when it comes to air service.  You may have taken the survey last May/June.
  4. Conducted individual and small group meetings with elected officials, business leaders and stakeholders.
  5. Established CV Air Service Improvement Fund at Community Foundation of NE Iowa and raised $60,000 in support of ASWG efforts.  These funds are used primarily to retain our air service development consultant and assist with airline relationship building.  Special thanks to those that have assisted (See the separate list).  You can make your contribution by following this link:
  6. Engaged in relationship building with current and prospective airlines through meetings with eight airlines.
  7. Identified and worked with AdvanceMedia, a marketing firm specializing in assisting small markets to improve their air service, to conduct a four-month initial targeted marketing campaign to promote local air service.

Looking forward, the ASWG will focus on five key action steps:

  1. Airline relationship building continues.  These efforts, like any relationship, require ongoing and consistent effort.
  2. Continue working on a new approach to marketing the service we currently have.  
  3. Relationship building between the Cedar Valley and our current service provider, American Airlines.  More on this in a future update.
  4. Secure additional financial commitments to incentivize improved service.  Like it or not, we all know that economic development requires incentives.
  5. Exploring other service development initiatives.

You may ask yourself, why does this all matter?  Economic development and talent/workforce recruitment and retention is more competitive than ever.  Communities with commercial passenger jet service like Dubuque, Sioux City, the Quad Cities, Rochester, LaCrosse, CR/IC and the Des Moines metro are all competing for the companies and talent that we in the Cedar Valley are seeking.  When decisions are made many factors matter but commercial air service is an important one.

If we work together as the Cedar Valley Region to build a better future, we can and will succeed.  So, what can you do? 

  • Check ALO first when you are planning to fly.  We are served by American Airlines, the world’s largest airline that provides a one-stop service to 154 cities (domestic and international) through Chicago.  Our airfares are competitive.  Your home is 10 to 20 minutes from the airport makes a big difference for those morning departures and those late-night return trips and parking is close to the gate and inexpensive.
  • Contribute to Community Foundation Fund to support the effort. 
  • Meet with the Grow Cedar Valley Air Service Working Group.
  • Invite the ASWG to make presentations to management teams and community organizations.

As someone who travels frequently for work and leisure, I hope I see you on a future flight from the Cedar Valley’s airport, ALO.

Air Service Working Group Members

  • Ted Batemon, Electronic Engineering Co.
  • Dave Beatty, Heartland Financial Services
  • Cary Darrah, Grow Cedar Valley
  • David Deeds, JSA Development, LLC
  • Deonna Fritz, Expense Reduction Analysts
  • Arlene Humble, Humble Travel
  • Wade Itzen, Bank Iowa
  • Keith Kaspari, Waterloo Regional Airport
  • Pete Meehan, Financial Decisions Group
  • Tom Powers, VGM
  • Jim Schaefer, Grow Cedar Valley
  • Doug  Schindel, AECOM

Cedar Valley Air Service Improvement Fund Contributors