The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority has hired former city of Gary economic development official James Ward as its marketing liaison.
On Monday, the authority board voted 5-0 with one abstention to hire Ward into the newly created, nine-month position at a salary of $1,000 per week.
Both Ward and airport officials made it clear during and after Monday's meeting that job No. 1 for Ward will be getting the word out about Allegiant, the airport's only regularly scheduled airline service.
"What we want to do is make sure Allegiant Air and Allegiant services are broadcast into the community, so people know what is available," Ward said.
The marketing specialist said that includes making the public aware of all the services Allegiant offers, including car rentals and hotels.
Ward was an official in the city's economic development department under former mayor Scott King and from 2001 to 2002 was coordinator of the city's volunteers and host committee for the Miss USA pageant.
The airport authority is contracting with Ward's company JACOWA 3 Entertainment for his marketing services but expects him to be working full-time on airport marketing, said Airport Interim Director Steve Landry.
Allegiant began flying out of Gary in February, with two flights per week to Orlando Sanford International Airport in Florida.
Ward's hire comes two months after the authority hired former Indianapolis International Airport CEO John Clark at a pay rate of $350 per hour to work as the airport's consultant on business development. His six-month contract limits his pay to a maximum of $5,000 per month.
Clark also has been focusing his effort on Allegiant for now, paying a visit to the company's Las Vegas headquarters and developing ways for Allegiant to stay strong in the Gary market, he told the authority board Monday.
The airport authority also heard a review of progress on its $166 million expansion project Monday. As part of that review it approved a $68,057 change order for the Airport Road overpass project.
The contractor has discovered some underground utilities will need to be protected from vibrations during construction, said Scott Wheeler, the project manager for the expansion project.