Regional initiative Project Propel launches

Author: Gwen O'Brien and Marissa Gebhard

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Announced at a news conference in Elkhart on Wednesday morning, Project Propel is a regional initiative in which local corporations and institutions have pledged to increase their use of South Bend International Airport for business travel.

Research has shown that a vibrant airport infrastructure is an important driver of economic development and growth. As the largest employer in St. Joseph County, the University is committed to playing a role in the economic renaissance of the South Bend-Elkhart region. As is the case with other organizations in the region, Notre Dame is encouraging employees who need to fly for business to use the South Bend International Airport if the associated cost is $300 or less. This will help to contribute to the economic development of our region.

Frequently Asked Questions: Flying out of South Bend

What is Project Propel?
Project Propel is a pledge by regional corporations and institutions to increase their use of South Bend International Airport for business travel. A vibrant airport infrastructure that efficiently transports people and products into and out of the region is attractive to businesses and talent considering moving here.

Does it really cost less than $300 to fly to Chicago from South Bend International Airport?
When factoring in the costs for gas, tolls, and big-city airport parking, it is often more cost-effective to originate your travel from South Bend’s airport. There’s a travel calculator on the Project Propel website if you would like to check for yourself. There are savings in other areas, like being more productive with your time by spending less time en route.

What is it like to fly out of South Bend?
Flying out of South Bend International is quick and easy compared to big-city airports. It’s easier to park at SB airport, check in, and, thanks to shorter lines, it takes less time to get through security. There is also an increasing number of direct flights from South Bend.

I used to fly out of South Bend, but I remember flights being cancelled.
If you have bad memories of cancelled flights from South Bend, you may be operating from old information. The airport reports that in the last four years, a whopping 97 percent of flights into and out of the airport were completed (not cancelled).

Do many people fly out of South Bend?
More than 820,000 people from our region flew last year. Only 329,000 (40 percent) of these people chose to fly local from South Bend International. If an additional 20-30 percent more travelers choose to fly local, the impact on our region would be significant.

How often do Notre Dame faculty/staff fly out of South Bend’s airport for business travel?  
For travel booked through Anthony Travel, Notre Dame’s use of the airport by administrators, faculty, and non-athletic staff is 51 percent.

What difference does it make if travelers don’t fly through South Bend?
When regional air travelers they are supporting economies in other states.

Does the airport have much of an impact on the regional economy?
The airport has a $1.7 billion impact on the area economy, according to a 2012 study conducted by the Aviation Association of Indiana.

How do we know Project Propel will work?
It has worked elsewhere. Grand Rapids businesses united in an initiative like Project Propel and added $100 million to their regional economy in one year. There were similar results in Chattanooga, TN; Asheville, NC; and Rochester, MN.

Originally published by Gwen O’Brien and Marissa Gebhard at on March 28, 2018.