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Bemidji airport wins federal terminal grant

The Bemidji Regional Airport was awarded an $187,797 federal grant for its airport terminal building expansion, it was announced Thursday.

The grant was one of nine worth a total of $1.8 million to airports in the 7th Congressional District. Also, $1 million in grants was announced for seven 8th District airports.

The Bemidji Regional Airport is expanding and renovating its airport terminal building using mostly federal funds. Airport Improvement Program funds plus a number of federal grants, plus more than $1 million in local matching funds are being used on the $9 million project.

Ground was broken in late July, with completion expected in late 2011.

The federal funding for the airports will be distributed by the Federal Aviation Administration through the Department of Transportation.

"Thousands of Minnesotans rely on these airports each year to stay connected to the world," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., in a statement. "By investing in our airport infrastructure, we're promoting economic development and ensuring that Minnesota airports remain first class for years to come."

She and U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, DFL-8th District, participated in the July 24 groundbreaking ceremonies at the Bemidji Regional Airport.

"Reliable air travel allows people across Minnesota to travel around the state and around the world," said Sen. Al Franken, DFL-Minn., in the same statement. "It creates local jobs by allowing businesses in small communities to compete in large markets across the country. This funding will make sure that Minnesotans can travel safely around western Minnesota and beyond."

Also in northwest Minnesota, Mahnomen County Airport will receive $66,500 to construct a fuel farm. Thief River Falls Regional Airport won $407,360 to improve its terminal building, install navigation aids, rehabilitate aircraft rescue and firefighting facilities and update a study.

"These airports are critical links in our region's transportation infrastructure, and it's important to keep these facilities in good operating order," U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-7th District, said.

In the 8th District, Walker Municipal Airport was awarded $180,825 to construct a taxiway.

"Installing up to date air traffic control equipment and building safe, efficient taxiways ensure that our airports can move the people and products necessary to make Minnesota competitive in the global marketplace," said Oberstar. "Improvements like these are good investments in our region's economy."