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MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE) received national recognition
for partnering with Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin on Project SEARCH, a jobs
program for young adults with disabilities.
MKE received First Place in the “Partnering with Concessionaires/Service Providers” category
at the 2018 Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) Marketing and
Communications Conference in Ottawa, Canada last month. In addition to Goodwill, the
partnership included airport restaurateur HMSHost and airport retailer Paradies Lagardère.
Project SEARCH is a business-led, school to work transition program for young adults with
disabilities. Six interns received employee training from both Paradies Lagardère and
HMSHost and worked in all of their Airport concession locations.
“I thank HMSHost, Paradies Lagardère, and Goodwill Industries for offering this outstanding
program and employing individuals that are sometimes overlooked in our community,”
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said. “Congratulations to MKE and our partners on
receiving this award. Project SEARCH has been such a big success at the Airport and at the
Milwaukee County Zoo. In fact, we’re looking to expand it to other departments as Milwaukee
County continues to empower people and strengthen our community.”
“This marks the first time Project SEARCH has been successfully implemented at an airport in
the United States, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to receive this award from ACI,” Airport
Director Brian Dranzik said. “There’s nothing better than being recognized by your peers, and
once again MKE shows that it’s on the leading edge of Airports nationwide.”
The Airport facilitated additional enrichment opportunities by providing the interns with a tour of
the Airfield, control tower, and an airplane. This was their first opportunity to ever board an
airplane! Five of the six interns have already achieved permanent employment opportunities,
and the sixth is very close to securing employment.
“HMSHost is thrilled to be a part of this inspiring program, helping adults with disabilities gain
access to stable jobs, training, and a positive workplace environment,” said HMSHost Director
of Operations Robert Kiepert. “Working with Goodwill and Project SEARCH is an incredible
opportunity to engage with the local community and the Airport. Furthermore, it has led to
some great memories created with each new group of interns. Congratulations to MKE!”
“I’d like to congratulate MKE for this recognition,” said Lori Becker, general manager, Paradies
Lagardère. “Initiatives such as Project SEARCH are integral to not only the young adults with
disabilities it assists through its intern program, but the community at large. Paradies
Lagardère participates in a wide variety of events in communities throughout the year. We are
always looking for new ways to help and believe in making a positive difference in the lives of
our employees, business partners and customers.”
A video documenting the program was included in the Airport’s award submission to ACI-NA
and can be viewed here.