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BLOOMINGTON Travelers through the Central Illinois Regional Airport can get food and gifts for now, and airport officials want it to stay that way.

With terminal concessionaires struggling for customers, the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority on Thursday lowered their rent.

"Our tenants could lose interest in the terminal. They could become unprofitable, which could prevent us from offering these services to our customers," said airport Executive Director Carl Olson, addressing the tenants' problems.

Not enough people visit the concessions, Olson said. Generally, people get to the Bloomington airport just in time to pass security and board the plane.

In turn, tenants lacking business have struggled to meet rent. One concessionaire is more than a year behind.

Charging a 4 percent commission and a $14-per-square-foot annual fee, the airport collects about $157,000 annually from it five concessions: The Hangar Food and Spirits; Books Again; Airport Gifts and Baskets; Denny's Doughnuts and Bakery; and Bevande, a coffee, pastry and sandwich shop. That's about 5 percent of this year's $3.16 million budget.

Now, tenants will pay 2 percent commission and $12.32 per square foot. Olson did not say how much the cut would cost the airport. Concessions tenants must catch up on rent to receive the cut. Previously, airport officials said tenants owed around $40,000.

To spur business, authority board Chairman Paul Harmon suggested the airport offer concessions beyond the security checkpoint where people typically wait to board their flights.

"That could be something down the road, but we know tenants are not going to be willing to make that investment at this point, and we're not in a position to do that either," Olson said.

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