Last week marked two important milestones at SHD! Not only did our new flights to Washington-Dulles (IAD) and improved schedule to Chicago O’Hare (ORD) start last Wednesday, but we have an exciting new partnership that’s making us feel very purple and gold!
On Thursday President Alger announced that Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD) is now the official airport of James Madison University! As President Alger remarked in his email to all faculty and staff, this partnership is a great example of how institutions of higher education can have an exponential impact on community growth as JMU strives to become the national model of the engaged university. He also pointed out the benefit of improved efficiency, productivity and cost savings for the university when considering total travel costs. As part of our partnership with JMU, you’ll also notice some changes happening in our terminal soon. We can’t wait to show you when the time comes!
A critical driver behind the additional flights and this new partnership with JMU is the work of the SHD Air Service Task Force. Chaired by Dr. Nicholas Swartz, associate dean of Professional and Continuing Education, Task Force Ambassadors work with many JMU programs and departments in addition to tourism, economic development and local higher education partners. Ambassadors represent Blue Ridge Community College, Rockingham County, City of Harrisonburg, James Madison University, Lantz Construction, Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center, Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Valley Conference Center, and Shenandoah Valley Technology Council.
Ambassadors are focusing their efforts on increasing awareness of SHD air service with one common message: incorporating SHD into your travel plans is critical for positive economic development efforts and enhanced quality of life. Ambassadors communicate regularly with JMU faculty/staff, alumni, travel agencies, event planners, local elected officials, and regional business and community leaders.
As Dr. Swartz explains, “This air service is critical for the future success of the University as we work to attract exceptional students, faculty and staff; engage with our constituents; and pursue JMU’s vision of being the national model of the engaged university.”
Since United/SkyWest started in April 2018, we’ve seen tremendous passenger growth and it’s extremely important that we continue this trend to secure our current level of service and add additional flights and connectivity in the future. We all know shopping with local small businesses during the holiday season (and year-round too) is important to the vitality of our community. Flying local is the same! Every flight taken from your local airport is a vote to the airlines on where travelers prefer to see more service and every vote counts!
Thank you to James Madison University for taking a leadership role in supporting local air service for the benefit of our entire region! Go Dukes!