NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — Coastal Carolina Regional Airport has announced it has been awarded a grant that it will use with additional funding to recruit additional airline services from a travel hub in the Northeast.

Coastal Carolina Regional Airport (EWN) officials said the grant is from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Small Community Air Service Development Program. EWN is one of 25 communities nationwide to receive a grant this year.

The DOT’s grant makes $776,000 available to EWN and the matching contributions from state and local sources bring the total funding available to $1.4 million. Officials said they hope to use the money to expand their air service and give the local economy an additional boost from people who wish to travel to the area.

The airport has also received important community funding commitments from state and local sources, with significant contributions from Craven County and the Craven 100 Alliance.

“This is yet another powerful example of partners from both the public and private sectors in the region coming together to improve transportation, commerce and quality of life in eastern North Carolina,” said Airport Director Andrew Shorter. “The commitment that EWN received from our community leaders and strategic partners made a significant impact in being chosen as a recipient of the grant this year.”

The news was also welcomed from area politicians, including Congressman Greg Murphy and Sen. Thom Tillis.

“I was so pleased to write a letter of support on behalf of New Bern, and it’s great to see USDOT deliver for our rural community,” said Murphy. “This unique grant will allow New Bern to develop its own solutions tailored to its individual needs with a community-centered approach to infrastructure development. I’m confident that this grant award will expand travel capabilities for our residents along the coast and boost our economy. A great win for Eastern North Carolina!”

“Congratulations to Coastal Carolina Regional Airport on this grant that will create jobs and bring millions of dollars in economic activity to Craven County and the surrounding area,” said Tillis. “I was proud to advocate for this award to Secretary Buttigieg, and I look forward to welcoming thousands of new passengers to Eastern North Carolina in the near future.”

Officials with the New Bern airport say the process to get the grant is highly competitive with the USDOT receiving applications from communities in 30 states seeking more than $33 million. EWN was one of only two airports in North Carolina to be awarded a grant and received the largest allocation in the state.

“Air service development IS economic development,” said Jeff Wood, Craven County Economic Development Director. “Based on our positive experience with the recent seasonal Washington, D.C. route, EWN can confidently approach airlines with an invitation to include us in their business plans.” EWN will now begin working with potential new airline partners to develop new routes to maximize the value of the grant incentives and to determine critical path timelines.