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Airport not an economic tool

By Staff | Apr 27, 2009

To the Editor:

Between March 1995 and Autumn 2007, I attended nearly every Blue Earth City Council meeting held. I also spoke to every economic development director at city hall on a weekly basis. And while I can state the municipal airport was sometimes discussed, I do not recall it ever being mentioned in the same breath as ‘economic development.’

Anyone who says growth in Blue Earth hinges on having an expanded airport here is at the very least ‘misinformed.’ At worst, they’re bad liars.

I can tell you economic development has been a gut-wrenching affair in Blue Earth. Try as our leaders might, finding new employers has been hit and miss – mostly miss. And while we have enjoyed some successes, our many failures stick out.

Simply stated, ‘development’ certainly isn’t science.

Economic development planning does have value, because simply ‘hoping’ for business expansion and job retention does not work. It requires some luck as well as precise planning. However, development does not require an airport expansion.

Although I follow the debate for the proposed runway upgrade from the comfort of home these days, I find the only people benefitting directly from an improved airport are managers Barb and Tim Steier, as well as Bolten & Menk Engineering.

I can see this; you can see it, too. Why is our city council so blind?

The truth is, I worry about actually finding someone to ‘fly’ into Blue Earth’s airport and consider starting a new business locally.

What will they say when they drive around our city, and see our decrepit streets? We have so many potholes, the Winnebago City Council makes fun of us. Our Main Street is on life support, ironically enticing ‘hospice’ to relocate there. Even our own city administrator chooses not to live in our community.

Let’s solve Blue Earth’s most pressing issue by first earmarking more local tax dollars to fix our ailing streets. Once they are on the road to recovery, maybe then we can afford to expand our airport.

Kyle MacArthur

Blue Earth