Editorial: Eastern Iowa Airport, Kirkwood aviation program a great match

Kirkwood aviation
Nathan Bellinger, director of Kirkwood Community College’s new aviation maintenance technology program, works on the Cessna Citation I. CREDIT KIRKWOOD COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Two of the Corridor’s most important institutions came together to create another regional win-win.

The Eastern Iowa Airport and Kirkwood Community College have created a new aviation maintenance program, which will enroll its first students in fall 2023.

Nearly $1 million from a federal grant and local sources will help this new program get off the ground and is something that our region, with its strong aviation heritage, should celebrate.

“This program seems like a natural fit for CID and our region,” said Eastern Iowa Airport Director Marty Lenss.

Kirkwood will lease an existing aircraft hanger from the Eastern Iowa Airport, and will use grant money to create classroom space, a workshop and office space for this burgeoning industry.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians is projected to grow 11% from 2020 to 2030, resulting in 14,400 openings each year.

For decades, Kirkwood has been adept at working with business and industry to create training programs that enable students to get good-paying jobs that fill a much-needed void. Often these training programs go unnoticed.

Mr. Lenss saw an opportunity for the region to embrace this aviation industry opportunity and reached out to Kirkwood Community College President Lori Sundberg about creating this unique program. Ms. Sundberg’s can-do attitude and Kirkwood’s ready-made training programs helped make this program a reality.

This program will make Kirkwood stronger. It will help fill an important and growing industry with deep Corridor roots. And it will enable the Eastern Iowa Airport to continue to be an economic driver.

Making an impact

We typically don’t comment on company hires unless they are at the president or CEO level, but we are making an exception this time.

TrueNorth Companies, one of the region’s most prominent and successful companies, recently hired Anne Parmley as its director of community impact.

There are few people more qualified or knowledgeable about the region than Ms. Parmley, who has had a distinguished career with several major companies and countless volunteer and philanthropic efforts in the Corridor.

This new position under Ms. Parmley’s leadership will position TrueNorth to be an even more important community leader in the region and beyond. 

“Anne brings a wealth of leadership and business acumen, as well as a deep connection to community volunteerism that aligns with our aspiration and intent for this role,” said Jason Smith, TrueNorth CEO, in a press release. “Her leadership will help advance our philanthropic footprint and community contributions in alignment with our firm values.”