Now it's time to cash in on airport potential, a Mahoning County commissioner says.
VIENNA -- A Pan Am 727 jetliner's touchdown Wednesday at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport will be the fruit of government, business and the private sector working together, local leaders say.
"Obviously this team effort -- this unprecedented effort -- has come to a very positive conclusion," said Capri Cafaro, one of dozens of business, local and state leaders on hand Monday at the airport to bask in Pan Am's announcement of flight service this fall.
Cafaro of Liberty Township, whose family is one of the nation's top shopping center developers and owns Cafaro Aviation, had arranged the plane transportation to make an important airline presentation 2,000 miles away.
That's just one example of how people at many levels stepped up to the plate to make the airline deal happen, those involved said.
Boston-Maine Airways operates Pan Am Clipper Connection. David A. Fink, Pan Am Clipper's president, is to fly in Wednesday morning and greet local representatives. The airline will serve a 10-county market in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania from the airport in Vienna Township; scheduled routes may be discussed Wednesday.
"We have called on everybody," said Vic Rubenstein of Rubenstein Associates, Liberty, whose company was hired six months ago to lead the airport's marketing effort for the Western Reserve Port Authority. "We needed help all along the way, and we needed people to step forward with dollars and resources."
The first step was taken nearly a year ago by Trumbull 100, which provided $30,000 to launch the marketing initiative. Trumbull 100, founded in 1994, is composed of area CEOs, professionals and business people fostering growth and development in Trumbull County.
Bill Casey of Trumbull 100 said the business plan to attract a carrier was sound and a professional was hired to make it happen -- without interference and for no political gain. "It was merely, 'Let's get a high-class carrier,'" he said.
Still, there were plenty of politicians on hand Monday morning in the airport lobby -- from different counties and political parties -- posing for pictures and addressing the media: Trumbull Commissioners Daniel Polivka, James Tsagaris and Paul Heltzel; Mahoning Commissioners Anthony Traficanti, James Ludt and John McNally; state Sens. Marc Dann of Liberty, D-32nd, and Robert Hagan of Youngstown, D-33rd; state Reps. Randy Law of Warren, R-64th, Sandra Stabile Harwood of Niles, D-65th, Sylvester Patton Jr. of Youngstown, D-60th, John Boccieri of New Middletown, D-61st, and Charles Blasdell of East Liverpool, R-1st; and Cortland Mayor Curt Moll and Warren Mayor Michael O'Brien. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, had another commitment in Warren at the same time.
Also on hand were representatives of Gov. Bob Taft's office; Ohio's Republican U.S. Sens. Mike DeWine and George Voinovich; William Getchey of Eastgate Regional Council of Governments; and labor leaders Jim Graham, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112 at the Lordstown assembly complex; and Jim Kaster, president of UAW Local 1714.
"I have never seen such a community effort in terms of leadership stepping forward," Rubenstein said. "The private sector, too, has stepped forward to offer us incentives [such as underwriting the cost of parking] that we can give Pan Am. This could not have been done without them."
Now the real work starts, said Steve Bowser, the airport's director of aviation.
"We have to fill those seats," he said. "If they're successful, we're successful -- that's the bottom line."
Traficanti said he hopes the community gets behind Pan Am and other ventures that may come to the airport, which was financially supported for a dozen years by subsidies from both counties. "It's time to start cashing in," he said.
Bowser explained that the airport never before had a marketing program that would actually go out and pursue the air carriers and their services. Officials continue to pursue cargo activities and other airline activities.
"It doesn't stop here," Bowser said.
Boston-Maine has a fleet of 21 727 jet airliners and 20 Jetstream regional-type aircraft. The airline's destinations are Boston/Portsmouth, N.H.; Trenton, N.J.; Newburgh, N.Y.; Columbus; Orlando/Sanford, Fla.; Clearwater/St. Petersburg, Fla.; San Juan and Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; and Punta Cana and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
"The community is going to determine its success ... and whether there's going to be four flights or 40 coming in and out of this facility," Dann said.