U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, isn’t shy about his determination to bring more federal funds into his congressional district, which includes numerous low-income pockets of Osceola County, as well as east Orange and northeast Polk. “Our district is a relatively poor district. We need to do our best to have more jobs and better jobs,” Grayson told the Sentinel’s Mark K. Matthews earlier this year, adding that he and his office track federal grant programs closely. “For each one that comes along, we have someone in our office who thinks hard about who locally might be able to effectively compete for such a grant,” he said.
Today, he announced a payoff: $2 million to Kissimmee Gateway Airport to rehabilitate its aging runways.
“I am extremely pleased that Kissimmee Gateway Airport will receive funds to invest in this critical infrastructure project,” he explained. “This airport provides support for operations and overflow at the Orlando International Airport, one of the world’s busiest airports. It facilitates 3,000 to 4,000 business flights annually as a result of its proximity to the Orange County Convention Center, the second largest convention venue in the nation. Kissimmee Gateway Airport also hosts military aviation traffic and medical evacuation helicopters that serve as first responders for the attractions area. These funds will allow the facility to continue serving the Greater Orlando community.”
Earlier this year, Grayson went to bat to keep the control tower at the airport open, after the Federal Aviation Administration put it on a list of 100 small airports that would lose their full-time air-traffic controllers because of the federal sequester. Ultimately, the FAA backed away from its threat.
According to the congressman’s release, parts of the airport’s runways date back to the facility’s time as a World War II Army Air Force training base, and have been used for many years beyond their intended life.