Menominee County Commissioner Steve Gromala claimed at a recent meeting that he considers the Menominee Regional Airport an economic asset to the county. We think the commissioner is flying in the right direction. 

Gromala is no stranger when it comes to county politics. He has been a long-serving member of the Menominee County Board of Commissioners, having served a previous stint on the board prior to his most recent return. He is a member of the airport committee. He was a member of the county board when Menominee shared the operation of the airport with Marinette County. He knows the ups and downs the beleaguered airport has flown for decades. 

“I believe this airport is a very important asset to retaining business as well as recruiting new business in our area,” he told fellow commissioners at a meeting of the airport committee Dec. 18. “So many of the businesses use the airport,” he continued. He noted the airport provides services that benefit area businesses, which include air freight and the transportation of company employees and company customers. He added the local airport is a safe haven for local pilots when it comes to housing their aircraft.

According to the commissioner. some local pilots are confused on certain matters. For one, he pointed out, the airport could never survive solely on the revenue generated by land leases and the small amount of fuel sales from the group of local pilots. 

Gromala said a good chunk of the revenue for operating the Menominee airport is derived from fuel sales to visitors. Still, he stated, the combined revenue from local pilots and visitors wouldn’t be sufficient to sustain the airport without funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Michigan Department of Transportation-Aero. He warned that if Menominee County does not follow the rules and regulations laid out by these two agencies, the county is at risk for losing the funding. 

Finally, we couldn’t agree more when he stated that a lot of people don’t understand that the airport is a benefit for all residents of Menominee County. 

Most of the flak targeting the Menominee County airport over the years has been fired from commissioners representing constituents in the northern reaches of the county. They have not been solo flame throwers, of course, but they’ve been the most consistent. We’ve long wondered how those same critics could have many of their constituent employed at Menominee and Marinette business establishments who utilize the airport with freight and passengers, and yet still oppose the airport.  

We consider Gromala’s remarks a breath of fresh air. The fresh air was long overdue.