More space will soon be available to potential high-flying businesses after a recent land purchase by the city of Le Sueur.
In April, the City Council agreed to purchase 1.84 acres of land to the east of the Le Sueur Airport to allow for the development of future hangars. Later in September, the United States Department of Transportation said Le Sueur’s land acquisition was one of 16 Minnesota airport infrastructure projects to be funded through the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Le Sueur airport was the recipient of $226,000 in grant monies out of a total $27.6 million allocated to the state of Minnesota. Nationwide, the FAA delivered grants to 405 airports, totaling $1.2 billion.
“This $1.2 billion federal investment will improve our nation’s airport infrastructure, enhance safety, and strengthen growth in local communities, which is especially important as the economy recovers from COVID-19,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
In Le Sueur, that money will go toward expanding the Le Sueur airport to host private aircrafts and businesses. Starting in 2022, individuals and businesses will be able to rent portions of the land, allowing for the construction of 18 hangars to house private aircraft.
The hangars would not be built by the city, but instead by private companies and could have a variety of uses. Public Services Director Rich Kucera said that the space may be used by aviation-based companies like Scott’s Helicopter Services in Le Sueur, which owns and operates helicopters for transportation, aerial photography and survey, aerial lifts and manages an FAA repair station.
The city has also received requests from drop-in pilots interested in P-hangers to store their plane while in town.
“We’re trying to work with the EDA to find ways to bring businesses in and that involves like Scott’s Helicopters are already out there,” said Kucera. “More areas and building facilities are needed for something like that.”
To accommodate the new space, the Le Sueur Airport would have a revised layout. A new entrance road is planned to run just to the north of newly acquired lot and pavement along the existing entryway would be removed.
New roadway would be constructed off a taxiway, which would branch off into two paths with four hangars on each side of one path and five hangars on each side of the other.
The city sees future airport infrastructure as a way to boost economic activity in the city and surrounding area. A 2019 report from the Minnesota Department of Transportation details that the Le Sueur Airport employs 53 people and generates $5.3 million in economic activity between payroll and spending.
The FAA grant covers most of the total estimated project cost of $227,000. The land itself was purchased for $145,000, with another $50,000 owed to Bolton and Menk for land acquisition services, $19,000 to demolish the property on the parcel and $13,000 for city administrative costs.
Local costs will be paid for through the capital improvement fund for a taxiway extension on the airport. The extension was delayed by the Airport Commission so that the city could move forward on the land purchase.
“If we get an employer in there or an airplane restoration business, that could definitely bring jobs into the airport directly and the city, too,” said Kucera. “It will help the community and the city grow.”