It can’t be Done. That’s Why You’re Doing It.

Posted by: SouthBendRegion Economic Development on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

An increase in business of more than 20 percent? That’s what leaders across the region accomplished in 12 months last year. And it’s likely that the results will lead to $100 million in economic impact to our region every year going forward.

At a press conference held February 28, 2019 outside the offices of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership, a stunning announcement was made. “… by working together, we’ve witnessed a 20.3 percent increase in less than one year at South Bend International Airport,” said Chris Murphy, Chairman and CEO of 1st Source Bank. “This means that we’ve effectively lowered the cost of doing business for the entire region and earned the attention of national airlines who will look seriously at providing even more services, larger aircraft and new direct connections to economic hubs across the country.”

In fact, American Airlines now offers direct flights out of SBN to national hubs in Dallas and Charlotte. It’s good for business and a great example of how working together impacts everyone who lives in the 47 cities and towns across our region.

U.S. airports averaged 6% growth in fiscal 2018. That’s great. But it pales compared to the 20% you and your colleagues pulled off. You proved that when we work together, big things happen. And, we’re just getting started.

What’s at stake? When we make our region more efficient and more productive, we share a larger chunk of the global economic pie. $100 million in direct impact annually is just the beginning.

Is $100 million a year just a lofty goal? Not at all. It’s precisely how a handful of similar-sized regions across the country have been impacted by initiatives like ours.

Focusing on a goal that makes us more competitive as a region, works. But it only works when we’re all rowing in the same direction.

The idea is to propel our regional economy into the future.

That’s why we call our initiative ‘Project Propel.’ And ironically, it’s less about our airport than it is about creating the strongest business climate possible in our region.

As John DeSalle, President of Hoosier Racing Tire, Inc., points out, “Our engineers work long hours already. They travel a lot. And the last thing I want to do is put them through all the extra hours and stress of driving to and from a Chicago airport. It’s tiring and it’s not a smart use of their time. We’re all more productive when we’re working. But we’re not working if we’re driving.”

DeSalle underscores the productivity benefit to using our own local airport as opposed to airports in Chicago. He understands that ticket prices are misleading. 9 out of 10 times, the total cost of flying out of Chicago for business, exceeds the cost of flying out of our own local airport. Ticket prices only tell a small part of the productivity story.

At, there’s a simple online business travel calculator that’s helping local companies get a handle on the real cost of flying out of Chicago. It’s proving that those lower ticket prices at O’Hare and Midway, are actually costing us more than we think. And now, a lot of regional business leaders are adopting travel policies that reflect the whole cost of travel. Their doing this for their operations, and the net result is an improved business climate across the board.

Today, we’ve begun year two of the Project Propel Initiative. We’re asking more businesses to invest in our own regional economy. We’re asking for your help growing and diversifying so we can remain a competitive force in the world for generations to come.

Visit today. See who’s joined the initiative. There’s a great FAQ on the site in addition to our online calculator. And download one of our single page business travel policy templates. Customize the policy however you want. And let us know you’re supporting our own economy instead of Chicago’s by getting behind Project Propel.

Thank you!