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C.O. hits $350K pledge goal for RDM-LAX fights

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Mar 15 2013 10:48:57 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 16 2013 02:35:08 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent spoke with businesses and EDCO about the travel bank.

BEND, Ore. -

From city governments, to law firms, to clothing stores -- in just eight days, Central Oregon has put its money where its mouth is, securing $350,000 in pre-paid ticket pledges for new non-stop flights between Redmond and LAX.

"For me, it was a no-brainer," Vanilla Urban Threads owner April Lawyer said Friday.

It's here today and gone tomorrow in the fashion world. That's why it's so important for  Lawyer to attend trade shows in L.A. and keep her boutique stocked with the latest trends.

"By being able to go down there more, on a more regular basis, I can stay ahead of the trends a little bit quicker," Lawyer said.

Lawyer has a vested interest in getting the flight -- she travels down to Southern California several times a year for business, and also has family down there.

But not every company pledging has business in L.A.

"We don't have any immediate plans for the travel bank," said Karnopp Petersen partner Jon Napier.  "But we thought it was important to support EDCO. Our firm's belief is that business innovation is clearly key to Central Oregon's future."

Every city in Central Oregon has also pledged to the cause.

Economic Development For Central Oregon Executive Director Roger Lee was confident Friday morning that they'd meet their goal.

But the flight is about much more than the travel bank -- this is upwards of a $1 million investment in Central Oregon.

"There's a marketing campaign that COVA is actually managing along with Redmond Airport, so that's almost a quarter million," Lee said.  "And then there's a revenue guarantee that was really largely the federal government grant. We beat out other communities around the country to get that."

From the federal government, down to individual contributions -- it's a belief in the future of Central Oregon.

"A lot of people in Bend, in order to live here, they work satellite and have to fly to LA, and I wanted to support that," Lawyer said.

And after a week of scrambling to raise the funds, Lee is all smiles.

"I just can't say enough about the area chambers, visitors associations -- the whole community has really rallied together to make this happen," he said.

Now comes the process of collecting the pledges by next Friday's deadline, extended by American Airlines, and then distributing the travel vouchers.

If all goes well, EDCO said the flights on a 50-seat regional jet could begin as soon as June.

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