WASHINGTON (KNWA/KFTA) — On August 3, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it will award $16.9 million from the Small Community Air Service Development Program to help 25 communities in 20 states develop their own solutions to local air service needs.

According to a DOT press release, Bentonville and Fort Smith were among the communities selected to receive grants. These federal grants assist small communities across the country with maintaining and building air service options.

“In so many of our nation’s smaller communities, local air service is crucial to residents’ lives and livelihoods,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “We’re proud to award these grants to help strengthen local air service in 25 smaller communities and help Americans across the country get to where they need to go more efficiently and affordably.”

Since the inception of the program, DOT has issued more than 400 grants, helping communities develop projects tailored to their own air service needs. Grants are used to provide financial incentives to carriers, conduct studies on the possibilities of expanded service, and carry out marketing programs to promote existing local service, as well as address other challenges small communities and their airports may experience.

The financial assistance helps communities establish first air services, restore lost service, and provides support to establish new routes to improve connectivity and allow people in the community to fly more easily and affordably. The Department received 48 applications from 30 states, requesting a total of more than $33 million.