Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Outagamie County will wait a year before airport gets Appleton moniker

APPLETON — It’ll take a year or more before Outagamie County Regional Airport receives its new name, but when it does, Appleton will take the top billing.

The Outagamie County Board on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a resolution to change the airport’s name to either Appleton Airport or Appleton International Airport. The change will happen after county officials learn whether the airport is granted U.S. Customs service, thereby obtaining international status. Officials expect to learn whether Customs will set up in Outagamie County in early to mid-2015.

County Executive Thomas Nelson said the transition period will afford the county time to determine how to meet the projected $140,000 to $200,000 expense that would include signage changes. He praised the board for a decision that allows the airport to better market itself and extend its already strong value toward economic development.

“It’s a small change, but it could be a big deal,” he said.

The county organized a committee last year to determine the feasibility of a name change and whether a switch made sense. They determined current name of the Greenville-based airport doesn’t resonate with those outside the region.

Members determined a name change could aid in drawing customers who are currently flying into Green Bay or Milwaukee for the purpose of conducting business in the Fox Valley. Business travelers make up 80 percent of the airport’s commercial traffic. The airport relies on commercial flights for more than half of its revenue.

Pam Seidl, executive director of the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, supported the change and noted its similar experience when reaching out beyond the region. People don’t recognize the Fox Valley or the Fox Cities. They see the region in terms of its biggest city.

The bureau has since included “Greater Appleton Wisconsin” in its marketing efforts.

“We had to put the pin in the map for them,” Seidl said.

The committee noted a nationwide trend in tying airport names to the key destinations bringing in its travelers. Illinois’ Rockford Airport, for instance, was renamed Chicago-Rockford Airport.

Supervisor Tanya Rabec, who led the name change committee, said there’s tight competition with other airports and it makes good business sense to better reach out to those ultimately destined for the Fox Valley.

“They’ll be renting our cars, using our gas stations, staying at our hotels,” Rabec said.

The county board passed the measure by a 25-6 vote after only brief discussion.

Supervisor Jim Duncan said he made 600 phone calls to gauge the community’s opinion on making the change. He said 70 percent of those he spoke with were in favor of a switch to Appleton.

The change has been long in the works.

The county board in 1983 defeated a proposal to change the name to Fox Cities Metro Airport. Another three name change efforts failed between 2003 and 2011.

Char Stankowski, general manager for Little Chute’s Country Inn & Suites, relayed her career experience through several Fox Valley hotels in support for the change. As far as guests are concerned, they’re not staying in Little Chute or Grand Chute.

“They come to the Appleton area,” she said.

Source:  http://www.postcrescent.com

No comments:

Post a Comment