Guest Column: Negative editorial disturbing

Guest Column: Negative editorial disturbing

By Dave Lindberg

It disturbs me to see the negative editorial regarding the airport’s attempt to develop passenger service. We all know far too well how little progress was made under the prior director’s tenure, and the rifts that were caused as a result of it. Granted Bob O’Brien is paid very well for the job that he does, but you will not meet a person in that industry who is more sincere about his job, and more enthusiastic in his approach.

Let’s look at where we are at and why we do not have air passenger service:

Rockford has a very bad track record of keeping air carriers. We have seen Ozark, TWA, Frontier, Midway, American Eagle, Skyways, America West and several others attempt to serve Rockford in the past 20 years.

Unfortunately, all but a few attempts at service have been geared to shuttling passengers to O’Hare. We already have an excellent bus service system to O’Hare.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, have put the airline industry in the worst financial shape in history.

Rockford is still reeling from the effects of a double dip recession and still leads the state in unemployment.

While airlines are still looking for new markets, they are much more cautious in taking chances.

Further, until recently, the region, as a whole, never got behind the effort at the airport. The events of the last two years show that its development is a major issue throughout the community. This itself shows the need for regional planning. We are an economic region, not a collection of individual cities and counties, and until those cities and counties work together and decide what the plan is and who’s in charge, the failures will continue.

While Bob has not yet been successful, he has been the first airport director in Rockford to pull all the pieces together. Through Bob and the airport board’s efforts, we have both U.S. senators, Congressman Don Manzullo, the Governor-Elect, Mayor Doug Scott, the mayors of all the other cities in the region, our state reps and State Sen. Dave Syverson behind the effort to develop the airport. Also “on board” is the Chamber of Commerce, the Council of 100, the Regional Incentive For Community Excellence, the Greater Rockford Transportation Coalition and many other community groups.

Bob and the airport board will bring profitable airline service to Rockford, and I understand your paper’s concern about using money to lure them. However, so many worthwhile projects in this community have been “shot down” before they had a chance to bear fruit. I know The Rock River Times has been a major player in raising the community’s awareness of issues that are vital to all of us. For that, I take my hat off to you. However, this time I think you are wrong. Given the very difficult playing field we find ourselves on, give your support to what the Greater Rockford Airport authority board and its Director Bob O’Brien are trying to accomplish. I have had the chance to get to know Bob, his staff and each member of the airport board, and I can honestly say that every one of them is 120 percent committed to making the right things happen at our airport. They deserve your support.

David Lindberg is the chairman of the Greater Rockford Transportation Coalition.

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