New aviation school flying into Punta Gorda


PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- A new aviation school will soon arrive in Charlotte County. Tuesday, Western Michigan University (WMU) unanimously voted to expand academics to Southwest Florida.

“Not only are they planning on an aeronautical program, but also going to do an arts program,” said James Herston, Punta Gorda Airport Authority commissioner.

WMU’s expansion to Southwest Florida has been a long time coming. The university planned to vote on the school over the summer, but there was a delay because of funding concerns.

“One of the goals when I was hired was to get more people in the airport, get more leasing on the other land on the airport. And it’s good for our bottom line, and it’s good for the communities bottom line,” said Jimmy Parish, Punta Gorda Airport’s assistant director.

For now, students will take classes at Florida SouthWestern State College, but the aviation program will be based at the Punta Gorda Airport. County leaders have proposed the old IMPAC school for permanent classrooms.

Airport officials say the partnership could bring more jobs and more money to the area.

“We would be so blessed at that point because out of 67 counties in the state of Florida, they want to come to Charlotte County,” said Herston.

WMU students could be in Punta Gorda as soon as 2016.

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