Flight delays at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport are about to get more enjoyable. Fraport USA, which handles retail and dining options in the airport, has introduced Launch Pad, a program that helps local entrepreneurs open up businesses in airports. The first of these businesses is Aircuts & Day Spa, a barbershop and salon where flyers can freshen up before their final destinations. Fraport Cleveland vice president Tina LaForte fills us in on the high-flyer program.Q: Why did Fraport’s Launch Pad program come to Cleveland?
A: It’s really to create opportunities for area businesses and startups and partner with them to bring the authentic culture of the region into the airport. For [travelers], it helps to show what the region or city of Cleveland has to offer. So you can kind of get a feel of Cleveland from being [at the airport].
Q: How does Fraport stay involved after businesses launch?
A: We’re here to support any location that we have here, sharing passenger data with them so they can better staff for the business that they can expect throughout the day. [With Aircuts], we have a mentorship program that we put in place where we meet on a regular basis to talk about how we can build sales and what opportunities we see.
Q: What other LaunchPad shops are on the horizon?
A: It could be local souvenirs. It could be jewelry. It could be body or hair care products — any of those things tend to do really well in an airport. Cookies and popcorn could be successful, too. We’ll continue to look for those Launch Pad-type locations [like AirCuts] where we can continue to grow the local piece of it.