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Airport gets $1.08M in CARES Act funding

ESCANABA — The Delta County Airport is planning to use CARES Act funding to mitigate its share of the costs for an upcoming runway project, Airport Manager Andrea Nummilien said.

This summer, the Delta County Airport was awarded about $1,080,000 in CARES Act funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike other grant monies awarded to the airport, the only limitation on this funding is that it needs to be used for airport projects.

Normally, the airport receives $1 million in Capital Investment Plan grant funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) each year, making it responsible for a local share of $100,000. In 2020, however, the airport was awarded discretionary money for a $6.5 million runway project set to start later in 2020 and continue into 2021.

“That is awarded from the FAA to certain airports based on need — it comes around maybe once a decade, and it’s for large projects like revamping a runway,” Nummilien said.

This funding also comes with a larger local share — 10 percent of the cost of the project, or $650,000. Due to the pandemic, Nummilien said paying this back would have been difficult.

“(That) is an incredible economic burden at this time,” she said.

The local share for the runway project will eventually be refunded to the airport. However, this will not take place after the project is completed and the grant is closed out — a process that can take more than a year.

“Fortunately, when the CARES grant was awarded, the FAA was thinking about situations like ours so our CARES grant can be used to fund our local share for our runway project,” Nummilien said.

When funds used for the local share for the runway project are reimbursed, the airport will be able to put them towards various projects.

“Some ideas we have thrown around include aircraft hangar updates, purchasing heavy equipment that can not be purchased using grant money and updating the interior of the terminal,” Nummilien said.

Although the airport will have CARES Act funds left over after paying off the local share, Nummilien said she is not looking at starting new airport projects until the pandemic is over and revenue from boardings increases again.

For more information on the Delta County Airport, visit flyesc.com.

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