SLO airport gets $500,000 to expand to new markets

San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport has received a $500,000 grant that the federal Transportation Department says will help expand service to new markets.

The grant, awarded to the county under the Small Community Air Service Development program, was one of 19 grants totaling $6.4 million awarded to smaller communities around the country.

According to the department, the money will be used to provide financial incentives to airlines, conduct studies to determine service needs and launch marketing programs to promote use of local airports.

Officials say the money will help bring low-fare service to the county, improve connectivity among intrastate markets and increase access to cities in the Pacific Northwest.

"Local air service provides support to local businesses and local jobs," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a press release today. "These grants will help support and sustain efforts by small communities to preserve and expand their links to the national air transportation system, connecting residents to the U.S. economy."