Construction, Economic Development, and Travel & Tourism

Ford airport completes phase one of $45M 'transformation' project

September 28, 2017
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Gerald R. Ford Airport security
Airline passengers move through the security checkpoint at Gerald R. Ford Airport. Courtesy Ford airport

The first phase of a $45-million construction project at Gerald R. Ford International Airport has finished. 

There was recently a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the airport to celebrate the completion of phase one of its Gateway Transformation Project, a 59,000-square-foot expansion that started in December 2015 and cost $32 million.

“For four straight years, we have seen record passenger growth, and we are on pace to make it a fifth. We saw a need to make improvements for the passengers and to continue to deliver top-notch customer service and amenities,” said Roger Morgan, board chairman, Ford airport.

Phase-one construction included centralizing security to one main checkpoint which was completed in June, terrazzo flooring, lighting fixtures, restrooms and nursing rooms, family restrooms, pre-and post-security kid play areas, pre- and post-security business centers, a meet-and-greet space and an indoor observation area where people can see passengers depart.

New retail space includes a store called A Touch of Grand Rapids, a Hudson News partnership.

New food and beverage space includes a post-security Starbucks and Prospect Hill Brewhouse, a collaboration with HMSHost.

More than $17 million of the total budget was raised through sponsorships, with the remainder of the support coming from airport funds and passenger facility charges.

“The key to this entire project is partnerships,” said Jim Gill, president and CEO, Ford airport. “How many airports in the country can say they asked their community to support a project like this and that community came through? We have an exceptional, philanthropic spirit here in West Michigan and that is now showcased through our gateway to the world.”

Sponsorships included an $8-million donation from Amway as the project’s title sponsor, with eSpring drinking fountains and other Amway branding placed throughout the airport.

Meijer, SpartanNash, Spectrum Health, Steelcase and Wolverine Worldwide each donated at least $1 million. There were notable sponsorships from multiple other entities.

Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital has re-designed and added new play areas, family restrooms and nursing rooms for new mothers. Steelcase has outfitted four business lounges pre- and post-security with its office furniture. In October, SpartanNash will complete a military welcome center.

A second phase — including improvements to airline ticketing, baggage screening and baggage claim areas — is in the design phase. Construction is slated to begin in 2018.

A exhibit on former President Gerald R. Ford will be unveiled in October.

“We are committed to being West Michigan’s gateway to the world,” Morgan said. “We want people to step off the plane and know they’re in West Michigan.”

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