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Economic development - Airport Improvement Program

The Airport Improvement Program, administered by WisDOT's Bureau of Aeronautics, combines federal, state and local resources to help fund improvements for nearly 100 public-use airports throughout the state. Over the past decade, the program has averaged combined (federal/state/local) funding of $84 million per year. 

WisDOT is responsible for assisting in the development of a coordinated system of airports in Wisconsin. To do this, WisDOT guides airport development through a process that begins with broad policy planning and includes progressively more detailed elements of system planning, airport master planning, programming, and finally individual airport development. Through an agency agreement with the airport owner, WisDOT oversees project planning, coordination, design, land acquisition and construction, as well as financial transactions for an airport project. 

Airport Improvement Program and economic development

The Wisconsin system of general aviation and commercial airports facilitates the rapid transport of high-value goods and interim products used in manufacturing, and the movement of key corporate personnel for hundreds of companies in the state. The movement of high-value intermediate and finished goods boosts productivity of Wisconsin businesses, and also expands their market reach all over the world. This increases competitiveness, which can lead to increased output, employment and incomes. In addition, the presence of a public airport capable of handling corporate aircraft is often a factor considered when companies select a business site.

Airline passenger service is also a key element in economic growth, as national and international carriers link Wisconsinís businesses and manufacturers to markets around the world.

WisDOT will perform economic impact studies for airports, including the effects of major airport improvements on the community, upon request.

Case study

The Airport Improvement Program funded a multi-phase improvement of the Sheboygan County Memorial Airport. This improvement included runway extensions, land acquisition, runway approach clearing, hangar area development, and improved all-weather navigation. In addition to providing some of the funding, the Bureau of Aeronautics acts as the agent for the airport, and oversees consultants to do the planning, design, and construction engineering for the $18 million project. These improvements provide the Sheboygan area with the facilities they need to transport and receive personnel and products worldwide. 

The Bureau of Aeronautics is also assisting Sheboygan County in bringing an aircraft manufacturer to the airport. State and county dollars are funding the development of a new hangar area for this fledgling business. As the company grows into larger facilities, the county will likely request additional Bureau assistance.

Wisconsin's airports integrate its people and businesses into the global economy and promote the international exchange of ideas, products and investment opportunities. Airports enable small communities and rural populations to enter into the mainstream of domestic and global commerce by linking such communities with larger metropolitan areas, manufacturing facilities and other educational and cultural centers. 

For more information, see WisDOT's Airport Improvement Program Web page, or contact Mary Strait, Bureau of Aeronautics.

Overhead view of Sheboygan Airport

Apply for funds or get more information about the Airport Improvement Program

Related information:

General aviation information


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