KI Sawyer gives public all-access pass

Normally you need a security card or at least a boarding pass to make your way around an airport, but tonight KI Sawyer opened their doors to the public, giving everyone a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes.

Guided tours brought visitors beyond the terminal to service centers and maintenance shops stocked with snow-plowing and rescue equipment. During the winter months, their fleet has one hour to clear two miles of snow off their runways in order to keep all 51 flights on schedule. But all the hard work is well worth it when you consider a recent assessment of Sawyer’s impact on the local economy. The study showed that the U.P.’s lone International Airport is responsible for more than two thousand local and state jobs bringing in close to $150 million in airport-related sales.

“Sawyer’s kind of off the beaten path. We’re not right in town so we’re not top of mind,” noted Duane DuRay, the Airport Manager at Sawyer. “We wanted to bring out the businesses to the area to come out and see the airport, and also to see what we have to offer to the community. As you can see looking around, there’s a lot of businesses that are located at the airport. They also contribute to the success of Marquette County. The big thing is just to have the local business community realize what we bring to the plate.”

A number of those local businesses were on hand to offer up some of the community’s finest goods and services. Some companies new to the area used the exposure to get the word out about their latest endeavors.

“We’re going to open up an arcade where the kids can come in, play video games, and do their homework,” explained Scott Moore, owner of Hightower Computers. “One of my main pitches is if the kids don’t make the grades, they don’t get to play. I’m going to school myself for a Bachelors Degree, so I’m big into education. The kids around here need something to do.”

Telkite Technology Park also resides on the Sawyer campus and is home to many of  Marquette County’s largest employers like the American Airlines aircraft maintenance facility and Frontier Medical Devices.