Tag Archives: Ford Airport

Beer City’s airport to host new Founders flavored brewhouse

An architectural rendering of Prospect Hill Brewhouse, opening at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in summer 2017. (Supplied)

WKTV staff


Travelers out of Gerald R. Ford International Airport will be able to get a final taste of Beer City, U.S.A., in 2017 as Prospect Hill Brewhouse, a new eatery featuring Founders brews, will be opening as part of an expansion and upgrade of airport amenities.


The brewhouse will be located in the post-security area of the airport. The addition is part of a series of additions including two new Starbucks — one pre-security and one post-security, a restaurant called The Local @ GRR on Concourse and an as-yet unnamed casual dining restaurant on Concourse B, according to supplied material. A Burger Federation restaurant along with a Firehouse Subs is also planned.


“We are excited to have a local flair in our restaurant scene, and what better way to own up to our title of Beer City, U.S.A. than adding the Prospect Hill Brewhouse right here in the airport?” Phil Johnson, airport acting president & CEO, said in supplied material.


Prospect Hill Brewhouse is set to open in summer 2017, with the other additions occurring soon after.  There will also be retail offering changes including a Touch of Grand Rapids store featuring West Michigan themed products and in partnership with the Grand Rapids Art Museum.


Santa and Mrs. Claus to visit airport during 22nd Annual Holiday Music Festival

Santa visits the Gerald R. Ford International Airport
Santa visits the Gerald R. Ford International Airport

By Tara Hernandez

Gerald R. Ford International Airport


The Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) is getting into the holiday spirit with a music festival, and a visit from Santa & Mrs. Claus.


Kris Kringle will be listening to children’s requests, and passing out treats with Mrs. Claus in the Airport’s Grand Hall from 1 – 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8.  The event is free and the public is welcome to attend. Visitors are encouraged to bring a camera to snap a photo with Santa Claus.  Photos with Santa are free of charge, but the airport is asking guests to bring in two non-perishable food items per person.


In addition to Santa’s appearance, GFIA’s traditional Holiday Music Festival is running the week of December 5-9. The 22nd Annual Holiday Music Festival brings in middle and high school choirs from around West Michigan singing a variety of Christmas carols.


Of the 15 choirs performing, several of those are from the Wyoming and Kentwood area. On Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 1:30 p.m. is Legacy Christian 7th and 8th Grade Choir. Wednesday, Dec. 7, the choir from Godfrey-Lee High School performs at 11 a.m. followed by East Kentwood High School Varsity Voices at noon. Thursday, Dec. 8, the Madrigals from South Christian High School perform at 1 p.m. On Saturday, Dec. 9, the Wyoming Junior High Concert Choir performs at 10 a.m. with the choir from the Potter’s House at 2 p.m.


A full schedule of performances, which run daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., is available on the Airport’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/GeraldRFordInternationalAirport.


“Our airport is extremely busy around the holidays, but it is important for us to reflect upon what this season is all about,” said GFIA Interim President & CEO Phil Johnson.  “We are hoping we can put some smiles on children’s faces as they sit on Santa’s lap and listen to carols, and at the same time we are asking West Michigan to give back to the community by donating non-perishable food items to those in need.”


The donated food items will go to Mel Trotter Ministries – a Grand Rapids organization serving the hungry, homeless and hurting in West Michigan through its shelter, food pantry, and job readiness and housing placement services.


“Life-change can start with a meal. That’s why we are blessed to partner with the Gerald R. Ford International Airport during our Fall Food Drive again this year,” said Dennis Van Kampen, CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries. “Partnerships like this one help make it possible for Mel Trotter Ministries to stock our pantry and serve more than 110 families a week who are seeking emergency food assistance.”

New CEO and president selected for Gerald R. Ford International Airport

James "Jim" Gill, the new president and CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport
James “Jim” Gill, the new president and CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport

By Tara M. Hernandez

Gerald R. Ford International Airport


The Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority Board announced today that James “Jim” Gill has been hired as its new President & CEO.


Gill, who comes to Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) from Allegheny County Airport Authority in Pittsburgh, was selected as the finalist for the position by a search committee.


The Airport Authority Board voted unanimously to hire Gill at today’s board meeting.


“We are thrilled to welcome Jim to West Michigan, and we know he will thrive as the next CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport,” said GFIA Board Chairman Roger Morgan. “Jim has a track record of strong leadership, community partnerships, and he is well known and well respected among his peers in the aviation industry. Jim will continue to spark our growth as we invest in customer service, technology and construction projects, and serve as a catalyst for West Michigan’s economic progress.”


Gill is an industry veteran with more than two decades of senior airport management experience. With deep roots in the Pittsburgh area, he has served 13 years of that time at the Allegheny County Airport Authority, whose two airports serve more than 8 million passengers per year. There he has been CFO since 2007, and added the COO position to his duties in 2015. He has also previously served as Interim Executive Director. Gill also spent six years at Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority as Deputy Airport Director & CFO.


Gill is an Accredited Airport Executive with the American Association of Airport Executives and an International Airport Professional through Airports Council International, one of a very select group of airport professionals to hold both credentials.


Gill has many successes in his career including personally overseeing the operation of Pittsburgh International Airport transfer from county control to a new independent airport authority, which was a multi-year, complex process requiring significant operational knowledge and dynamic collaboration with a variety of stakeholders including the FAA which must ultimately approve the transfer. Moreover, while serving in the capacity as Interim Executive Director at Pittsburgh, Gill facilitated an agreement to have Allegiant Air begin point-to-point service there as the airline’s first medium hub, a successful operation which has grown from five destinations in 2014 to eleven destinations today.


“I am delighted to be joining the talented team at GFIA and I look forward to moving forward together,” said Gill. “An airport is so often the first and last impression that travelers have of the community and region, and so one must be committed to delivering outstanding operational performance while exceeding customer service expectations. I know we will continue to have an outstanding record of success in West Michigan, and I am excited to help lead the airport into a new, expansive era while working closely with the Authority Board, airport management, staff, and our community and business partners.”


Among the Airport’s future plans is a current Gateway Transformation Project, which is set to complete Phase One in summer 2017. Additionally, the Airport Viewing Park is set to open in the spring, and GFIA is on pace to break another passenger record for 2016. Airport leadership is also underway in updating the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Master Plan.


“One of the things that attracted me to this job is the excitement surrounding the growth of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport,” said Gill. “I am really looking forward to seeing all of these projects come to fruition, and to be the leader that helps drive even more growth and development in the future.”


The search committee was headed by GFIA Board Member Floyd Wilson, and Board Chairman Roger Morgan. Steven Baldwin & Associates – an Airport Management Consulting firm based out of Albany, New York – assisted in the recruiting process


“Jim has significant business and economic development experience,” said Wilson. “That is a perfect fit for the direction the board has envisioned for the new Authority.”


GFIA, which was named the top airport of its size in the region in 2015 by Airports Council International (ACI), welcomed a record 2.5 million passengers last year.


Gill will officially start work at the airport on January 9, 2017. He replaces Brian Ryks, who resigned in March to accept a position as CEO of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Gerald R. Ford International Airport North Lot reopens

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport's North Lot is now open.
The Gerald R. Ford International Airport’s North Lot is now open.

Expanded parking in a repaved lot is now available at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA).


The North Lot, located just north of the airport parking garage, has reopened to the public after a two and a half month closure that included the area being reconstructed and expanded with more than 100 new parking spaces. The project also added a covered entry canopy over the main lot entrance off of Gateway Drive. The entry canopy matches the architecture of the economy lot canopies, and will protect passengers from weather elements as they pull tickets to enter the parking lot.


Another noticeable new feature is the ability for visitors to transition directly from the parking garage to the North Lot. Previously, if guests had to exit the parking garage they had to go around the building.


“We are all about making things easier, safer, and more efficient for our passengers,” said Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority Acting President & CEO Phil Johnson.  “The new lot also had minimal environmental impacts as our crews reused all of the existing pavement and aggregate base so no parking surface materials were removed from the site.”


The lot was closed in June to undergo a resurfacing treatment and included more than 9,200 tons of asphalt, an improved layout with new signs and paint directing passengers to the terminal, 25,000 square feet of sidewalk to improve pedestrian safety, the addition of emergency call boxes, and 60 energy efficient LED lights for nighttime safety.

Construction work scheduled for 44th street, near airport


Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


Those heading to and from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport might want to add a few extra minutes to their travel time. Starting July 5, the City of Kentwood will be working on 44th Street between Broadmoor Avenue (M-37) to Patterson Avenue.


“Forty-fourth Street is the entrance way to Kentwood and the region,” said Kentwood’s Assistant City Engineer Dan VanderHeide, who noted that anyone who has driven on that section of road recently would have noticed it was in poor condition. “We want it to be welcoming to folks to the area.”


VanderHeide said one lane of traffic in each direction will be maintained at all times with patrons having access to the airport during the entire construction project. The project is scheduled to be completed in September.


The almost $1.9 million project will include milling out the full eight inche of asphalt and replacing it with a new concrete surface. An extended right-turn lane will be added on westbound 44th Street at Broadmoor Avenue and irrigation will be added to the existing median islands. VanderHeide said irrigation will help to green up the medians and there are plans in the future to add trees.


The project also includes improving the entrance way to Hearthside Food Solutions. The company applied for and received a $64,444 in Category A Transportation Economic Development Funds (TEDF) from the Michigan Department of Transportation.


“Because we oversee 44th Street, we are the ones who will handle the work for Hearthside,” VanderHeide said. “It is just a coincidence that both projects [Heartside Food Solutions and the 44th Street rehabilitation] came to be at the same time.”


About a million dollars of the project will be funded through the FHWA in Surface Transportation Program Fund with the City of Kentwood paying for the remaining $758,283. Kentwod-based contractor Kamminga & Roodvoets was awarded the work by MDOT.


“I am proud of our team and our community partners who successfully gained the necessary capital which will allow for a major corridor within our community to be greatly improved,” noted Mayor Stephen Kepley.


Forty-fourth Street was made a boulevard in 1979. It was last rehabilitated in 2004.


VanderHeide said other than the 44th Street project this summer, the city does have scheduled the replacement of four traffic lights at the intersections of 32nd Street and Shaffer Avenue; 52nd Street and Eastern Avenue; 44th Street and Kalamazoo Avenue; and 44th Street and Breton Avenue.


Kentwood just completed a rehabilitation project on Walnut Hills Drive from 44th Street to Pffeiffer Woods Dr. SE.