BEND, Ore. - Bend resident Steve Mulkey loves living in Central Oregon, but he's no stranger to a suitcase.
"Last year, I spent over $75,000 on air travel," Mulkey said Friday.
His work in television takes him all over the world. Many of his clients are in Los Angeles -- and that means layovers and more time away from his family.
"It's tiring," he said. "It takes time to change planes. It puts you on the ground sometimes during a plane change, sometimes two hours sitting in Seattle or sitting in Salt Lake City, so that's time lost."
Mulkey has already committed to buying into a travel bank for an LAX flight from Redmond.
Central Oregon has just a week left to raise $350,000.
The city of Bend is also contributing to the bank. At an emergency meeting of the Bend Economic Development Advisory Board late Friday, members decided the city would put in $5,000 to the travel bank and $15,000 toward revenue guarantees.
Twenty-six businesses and individuals like Mulkey have already contributed about $100,000 to the travel bank as of Friday evening.
"LAX is a huge hub, international hub, for going to the Far East where I have business, for going to South America where I do business," Mulkey said.
And it's not just travelers eager to get this new flight. The straight shot from Redmond to LA is another selling point for local real estate firms.
"We do have many people that own second homes in Central Oregon and a lot of them in California," said Alpine Real Estate co-owner Dave Feagans.
It's hard finding anyone against the possibility of the new flight.
"I grew up in LA, (and) still have family down there, and I'd love a direct flight," said a Bend man.
But I did find one Sunriver man who's a little skeptical. He said he's not sure if it will work out.
"I hope that the service remains consistent," he said. "Horizon Air had direct flights from the LA area into Bend, Redmond before and it did not last."
But it's looking hopeful-- and Mulkey has his fingers crossed.
"I'm going to Korea in the summer, on American Airlines, out of LAX," Mulkey explained. "Hopefully this flight gets going soon enough that I can use American to get that connection."
More information about the travel bank or how you can pledge money can be found at the link below: