2022 Newsmaker: Tory Richardson

Tory Richardson

President, CEO

Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Gerald R. Ford International Airport was the launching pad for five tech startup companies through the Ford Launchpad for Innovative Technologies and Entrepreneurship (FLITE) in 2022.

FLITE, a collaboration between Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Southwest Airlines and Stantec GenerationAV, allows five new tech companies to complete pilot testing on their products in an airport environment.

The companies were Aircraft Data Fusion, Dataspeed, EVA, Renu Robotics and Spotter. They also were the recipients of $145,500 in FLITE grant funding. 

“We are thrilled to partner with this next round of companies through FLITE to offer them the opportunity to test their products in a real-world airport environment,” said Tory Richardson, president and CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. “With thousands of passengers traveling through our airport every day, we can introduce startup companies to a global market, providing them with a vibrant workspace to scale their air travel technology solutions to further enhance the guest experience.”

In addition to FLITE, Richardson oversaw the construction completion of a new operations center.

The facility is a consolidated operations, communications and emergency operations center that provides daily operations support and emergency capabilities for the airport. 

With two fully functional consoles, specialists can dispatch police, fire, maintenance and janitorial teams and utilize color-coded display lights to indicate to other team members when someone has an emergency call in progress.

“Seeing the finished building is an exciting next step in the future advancements at the Ford International Airport so that we can best serve West Michigan and beyond,” Richardson said.

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