CHIPPEWA COUNTY — The Chippewa County International Airport is receiving over $5 million in grant funds, as announced Friday afternoon.
The U.S. Department of Transportation will be awarding approximately $5,271,043 to the airport, which will be used for the reconstruction and expansion of the airport’s general aviation terminal building to improve operations and efficiency for travelers and baggage moving throughout the airport. This new building will be funded in part by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation.
“The new building will have state of the art technology,” said Tami Beseau, airport manager. “Online meetings, conference calls and computerized presentations have become the norm during the recent pandemic and our lack of technology presented many challenges as we continued to do business.”
The airport has been working with its Federal Aviation Administration partners for over 10 years to secure funding for this project. The funding for this facility was finally secured in 2019.
The current general aviation terminal is a former military building and in need of major repair. This new terminal building will provide a warm welcome to air charter passengers and pilots flying to the Eastern Upper Peninsula. The two-story facility will house Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation and airport management offices, as well as conference facilities on the second floor. The first floor will provide air charter passenger seating, pilot flight planning and aircraft refueling offices.
The infrastructure investment will provide passengers traveling in and out of the region with more connectivity both domestically and internationally. This connectivity will allow more economic opportunities and the ability to compete with other invested communities.
“This infrastructure investment is another key project to help our community expand its reach both domestically and internationally,” said Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation President Chris Olson. “This project will ultimately strengthen the county’s competitive position and help build capacity that will generate economic opportunity for the region.”
The Chippewa County International Airport is considered to be the “airport of entry” for international flights. The terminal will have a separate screening area on the first floor for international flights and passengers while they are waiting for U.S. Customs clearance into the United States.
This grant is being funded as part of the supplemental funding provided under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020. An intent to fund this project was announced by the Secretary of Transportation on April 30, 2020. This grant is funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 to increase the federal share to 100 percent.
“I’m pleased to welcome this funding which will help Chippewa County International Airport expand its operational capacity as well as increase efficiency for travelers,” said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “As we work to recover from this pandemic, Michigan airports play a critical role in keeping communities and businesses across Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula connected to important economic opportunities and destinations. With new terminal improvements, Chippewa County International Airport can continue to provide safe, reliable air travel.”
“Having reliable and safe air service is important to Michigan tourism, commerce, and economic development,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. “This grant is an important investment in the infrastructure of our airports and will help our communities rebound from the pandemic.”
Immel Construction of Green Bay, Wisconsin, was awarded the bid for the new facility and the building will be completed in fall 2022. The airport will host an open house sometime in late 2022 to present the terminal to the public.