Economic Development, Lakeshore, and Travel & Tourism

Holland airport books $5-million renovation to match growth

December 19, 2012
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Holland airport books $5-million renovation to match growth
There are 35,000 flights that come and go from the West Michigan Regional Airport in Holland annually.

Holland’s West Michigan Regional Airport is preparing to undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation that will include a new terminal and runway ramp or "apron."

Greg Robinson, assistant city manager for the city of Holland, said he expects the terminal project to cost between $2 million and $3 million and the apron project to cost more than $3 million. Both projects will also require additional infrastructure, including utilities and roads.

The project is the result of the regional growth the airport has seen in recent years, he said.

“It’s been a very stable use of the airport by our companies in the Holland and Zeeland area,” Robinson said. “And we see indications of the reliance on the airport growing. The companies in this area, nearly all the major employers in the area, rely to some degree on our airport. We are truly part of the global business community, and we need to make sure that our companies are able to access points truly around the globe.”

The airport does not offer commercial flights, and 95 percent of its users are business clients. There are 35,000 flights that come and go from the West Michigan Regional Airport annually, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation Airports Division. The airport attracts a mix of business users from the region: Gentex Corp., Herman Miller, Holland Community Hospital, Johnson Controls, Tic Tock Studios, Trendway and Wings of Mercy.

The airport, formerly known as the Tulip City Airport, currently operates out of a former ranch-style house that Robinson said does not represent the airport’s current status in the community.

“That building does not reflect the economic image of this community,” he said. “With the airport being a gateway to the community, we need to have a terminal that reflects the economic health of this community.”

The new terminal will house all daily operations services, meeting spaces, business centers and facilities to serve pilots between flights. Robinson also said it will be constructed to encourage public use as well as business use.

“It will be a gathering space for the community at the airport. Airports can be exciting places, so we want to bring the community more toward the airport.”

The airport also plans to build a runway ramp, or "apron," to provide more waiting space for planes.

Infrastructure additions and the runway ramp will be funded primarily through the Federal Aviation Administration and the MDOT Airports Division.

“We will fund anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of that cost,” Robinson said. “For the rest, we will be using our local funds to leverage those much larger state and federal funds for the project.”

Terminal funding will largely be made up of private donors and West Michigan Airport Authority funds, as well as approximately $500,000 from the MDOT Airports Division.

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