It took a “team approach” from various groups and government bodies to help fund a major infrastructure improvement project at the Rolla National Airport, according to Rolla City Administrator John Butz.
“It really was a team approach on this thing,” Butz said. “It took a lot of people, a lot of cooperation and a lot of persistence. This was not an easy project to finance and not an easy project to plan.”
On March 8, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce, announced it had awarded a $1,044,248 grant to Rolla for improvements at the airport.
However, because the project at the airport in Maries County near Vichy has a total price tag of $2,389,519, several government entities and other groups stepped up to also contribute.
The City of Rolla is contributing $1,260,271, and Rolla Regional Economic Commission (RREC) is contributing $50,000.
Also, Intercounty Electric is contributing $10,000 and Maries County is making a $25,000 in-kind contribution. The Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC), prepared the grant application and will also serve as the grant administrator.
Butz credits much of the planning effort to MRPC and Integrity Engineering of Rolla. The engineering firm assisted by providing cost estimates and preliminary engineering efforts.
The project includes installing a new water system, new sewer collection and treatment system and new road at the airport. The main entrance road to the airport will also have a new overlay applied.
“What this really means for the City of Rolla is that we are going to be able to develop the airport in a way that we have discussed for 30 years now,” Butz said.
Butz explained that the grant will allow leverage of city funds to build the infrastructure needed to attract businesses and jobs to the airport, including the Brewer Science, Inc. expansion – which Butz said was a key component to securing the EDA grant. Butz also applauded the company for its commitment to Phelps and Maries counties.
Dr. Terry Brewer, founder and CEO of Brewer Science, expressed thanks to area legislators for supporting this project.
“Missouri is gifted with great leadership from local, state and federal officials, including Sen. Roy Blunt and Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, who supported these efforts to create leading-edge technology and manufacturing jobs for Missouri,” Brewer said. Former Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson also supported the project prior to resigning from office.
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State Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, said, “This is leading-edge technology that will propel the area toward future job growth and economic development. This investment will create high-tech jobs for hard-working citizens and help boost the local economy.
“I’m very proud to see our area develop through the production of 21st-century technology, and I look forward to seeing this project get under way,” said Brown. “The economic future looks bright for our district, and our citizens.”