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GPRA Announces New Director of Airports

Peoria, Illinois - The Airport Authority Board of Commissioners is pleased to announce that Mr. Solomon F. Balraj has accepted the job as the new Director of Airports for the Greater Peoria Regional Airport.

The aviation industry has been undergoing tremendous change since 9-11. New policies and strategies are required to meet the challenges, changes, and provide efficient safe aviation services. The Airport Authority is extremely confident that Mr. Balraj has the knowledge and experience to improve upon the already existing facilities and services, and to position GPRA as one of Illinois' leading airports.

Under the leadership of Mr. Balraj, the Airport Authority will diligently work to achieve the following goals: 1) provide better airline service to more destinations from a downstate faciity, 2) continue expansion of the cargo complex, 3) develop the airport facility into a regional transportation hub, 4) expand commercial business opportunities which bring more jobs and income into the area, 5) make GPRA an integral part of the development and growth of the community and the region, and 6) make the airport more self-sustaining and less dependent on the tax base.

Mr. Balraj has an extensive background in aviation, from 1998-2001 he held the positions of Director and Deputy Director for the Department of Port Control of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and Burke Lakefront Airport and Harbors with a $95 million operating budget. His reponisibilities included the $1.4 billion development and modernization efforts involving the combination of new runways, taxiways, Consolidated Rental Car Facility, US Customs Facility, Continental Airlines Concourse D, ILS installation and other technological improvements to increase the capacity of both airports. Mr. Balraj previously held the position of Assistant Director of Properties and Development, focusing on airport expansion and economic development issues for Cleveland Hopkins.

Mr. Balraj began his career with the City of Cleveland in 1990 as a law clerk and shortly thereafter, he served as an Assistant Law Director, and Assistant Director of Development of Economic Development.

Prior to taking the job as Director of Airports, Mr. Balraj has worked the first half of 2002 for one of the worlds largest full service engineering and construction organziations, Parsons. Mr. Balraj joined Parsons' Great Lakes Region Office to support its recent contract award for a ten-year support contract with the FAA in excess of $1.2 billion.

Mr. Balraj holds a Juris Doctor in Law and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Economics and Biology from Case Western Reserve University and licensed to practice law in the State of Ohio. Solomon has recently purchased a house in the Peoria area, and is excited about calling Peoria home.

Mr. Balraj is very comfortable working with employees, passengers, airport tenants, private aircraft owners, community leaders, corporate and government officials. His extensive knowledge of the aviation industry, and relationships with State and Federal government officials fit perfectly with the needs of the Greater Peoria Regional Airport and downstate air service. We believe Mr. Balraj is an experienced leader that can move our airport into the new millennium, and his ability to work with the community, the region and commission will help continue to build the Greater Peoria Regional Airport into a downstate regional transportation hub.