A Publication of WTVP

The construction of a new international terminal will build on PIA’s reputation for ease and convenience while stimulating economic growth.

“It’s a small world after all; it’s a small, small world.” Much like the iconic theme park ride in which you can experience many diverse cultures from across the globe, ours is indeed a small, small world. The planet Earth is shrinking—it is assimilating and figuratively growing smaller at an accelerated rate.

Now more than ever, in one way or another, we all subscribe to the economies of convenience and speed. In many areas, communication and travel have become virtually effortless. Communication that once took days to journey from author to recipient has evolved into mere minutes, or even seconds. Travel that once took weeks or months is now possible in relative comfort over just a few hours, available to all with the swipe of a credit card.

People, Products, Capital and Knowledge
Airports have played an important role in contemporary society as a symbol of globalization, aiding interaction and integration amongst people, companies and governments of different nations—a process driven largely by international trade and investment. The 20th century saw cities develop as the center with airports playing a supporting role, located on the fringe. Today, many say the “aerotropolis” concept, with an airport as the hub with the city built around it, is well on its way to reality. The ubiquitous presence of air travel, 24/7 workdays, next-day shipments on your doorstep, and a thriving global business network tend to agree with that notion. Aside from bringing grandpa and grandma to visit or facilitating a family vacation, people rely on airports to aid cultural and economic exchanges and to promote transnational business.

Access—to goods and services in Peoria, within the State of Illinois, throughout the United States and around the world—is key to good development. On any given day at the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport (PIA), you will find business people and cargo traveling to American destinations and through connections at major hubs, on their way to or from Beijing, Brussels, London, Panama and other colorful ports of call. Cities like Peoria seem to grow faster and more successfully when entry is easy, and when the community gets the most out of this continuous stream of people, products, capital and knowledge.

A New International Terminal
“Peoria International Airport – Connecting You to the World.” You have undoubtedly heard this catchphrase. It’s been PIA’s slogan for years, and it could not be truer today. PIA’s leadership is determined to embrace the assets that central Illinois, its business leaders and its traveling population have to offer.

The highly sought-after economies of speed and convenience have created a call to action: How do we harness and capitalize on globalization right here at home? PIA’s answer is a new addition to the recently-constructed 125,000-square-foot terminal building. Excitement has been growing since design for the addition of a dedicated international terminal took shape last year. Renderings for a state-of-the-art Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-certified facility have been accepted, and the start of construction is projected within the year.

CBP has long been a part of Peoria’s history, with the Peoria “Port of Delivery” established by Congress in 1856. As an agency, CBP has grown and evolved greatly over the last 158 years. When created for Peoria, its major mission was to receive steel on steamboats along the Illinois River. By and large, Customs’ duty here at home has remained consistent, providing international business support for the Peoria community and beyond. The new terminal addition will preserve CBP’s existing capabilities and add the much desired ability to serve commercial-sized aircraft.

Stimulus for Growth
Peoria International Airport, one of 11 airports in Illinois offering commercial service, is firmly established as a travel leader, economic engine, and stimulus for growth and development for the entire region. So far in 2014, the airport has experienced five consecutive months of record passenger numbers and currently sees nearly 600,000 travelers annually. It’s important to note that PIA’s terminal has the planned capacity to serve many more. According to the Division of Aeronautics within the State of Illinois, PIA has an economic output of roughly $300 million annually. While still under analysis, the added benefits of an international terminal should greatly increase the airport’s appeal within the corporate market, as well as the leisure travel industry.

Many businesses in central Illinois have a prominent presence on the global stage, not the least of which includes Caterpillar, Maui Jim and Komatsu. International travel is crucial to our economic health and quality of life, and PIA needs an international terminal building that adequately reflects this distinguished standing. Its board of directors has a terrific comprehension of the airport’s fundamental role in growing our connection to the global landscape and maintaining and building on the positive energy that already exists. The new facility’s operational capabilities will initially allow for expanded global corporate travel to and from the region, as well as regular charter flights to sunny destinations like Mexico and the Caribbean. Currently, PIA houses 10 departure/arrival gates, and the future Gate 12 will connect to the new international terminal and become this region’s modern front door to the world, providing hospitality to business leaders and family and friends alike.

PIA is known for its ease and convenience: free and expanded parking, frequent and consistent shuttle service, short lines and a comfortable environment. Add the significance of smart logistics—global access that is swift and convenient—and we surely have a lucrative combination. We look forward to giving Greater Peoria a seat—perhaps a window seat—to view our small, small world.

“There is just one moon and one golden sun / And a smile means friendship to everyone / Though the mountains divide / And the oceans are wide / It’s a small world after all.” iBi

Gene Olson is director of airports at the Peoria International Airport.