Lipinski Brings FAA Airport Chief to Lewis University Airport to Meet with Local Officials and Discuss the Airport's Future as an Economic Engine for Job Growth (November 10, 2011)

Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) brought the head of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airports Division to Lewis University Airport to meet with local officials and discuss plans for the airport’s future and how it can stimulate further economic growth and job creation in nearby communities. The visit by Christa Fornarotto, the FAA’s Associate Administrator for Airports, was the first by such a high-level FAA official in memory.

“Lewis University Airport is a great asset in northwestern Will County and already serves as an economic engine for the area,” Rep. Lipinski said. “But it has the potential to make an even greater contribution to local economic development and job creation, and as a senior member of the House Transportation Committee and the Aviation Subcommittee I want to make sure it fulfills that potential. That’s why I asked Associate Administrator Fornarotto to visit the airport and hear directly from local officials about future plans for the airport. It is critical that federal, state, county, and local officials all work together along with Lewis University and others in the private sector to upgrade the airport for the betterment of the region.”

Rep. Lipinski is working to help pass a long-term FAA reauthorization bill that provides significant funding for the FAA’s airport improvement program, which is the funding source for the planned reconstruction of Lewis University Airport’s first runway. This runway dates to 1990 and must be reconstructed to continue accommodating the larger aircraft that use the airport now and will continue to do so as it grows. Passage of a long-term bill would prevent a repeat of the partial FAA shutdown that occurred over the summer and hampered numerous airport projects.

Rep. Lipinski is the most senior northeastern Illinois member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and sits on its Aviation Subcommittee. He has worked closely with the FAA to ensure the continued strength of the region’s aviation system. 

Owned and operated by the Joliet Regional Port District, Lewis University Airport accommodates 105,000 arrivals and departures annually. Its convenient location near three major interstate highways in a fast-growing area has attracted numerous Fortune 500 and other corporate aircraft users and makes it a key selling point for the region as it seeks to attract further economic development and jobs.

“FAA support and funding are critical for the future of Lewis University Airport,” Rep. Lipinski said. “I am going to continue to work to make sure that we invest in the airport to make it a magnet for regional development. With unemployment stuck at 9 percent, we need to be doing everything we can to attract jobs in both the short term and the long term. I look forward to continuing to work with everyone who wants to assure a bright future for the airport and economic growth in the region.”

Participants at today’s meeting included John Noak, Mayor of Romeoville & Joliet Regional Port District Board Member; Dan Vera, Chairman of the Joliet Regional Port District; Chris Lawson, Airport Director of Aviation, Lewis University Airport/Joliet Regional Port District; Jim Bilotta, Will County Board Member and Chairman of Transportation Committee; Dr. Susan Shea, Director of the Division of Aeronautics, Illinois Department of Transportation; and Bill Brogan, Lewis University, Chair of Aviation Department.

(November 10, 2011)