First Federal of Van Wert made one of the important early commitments to the $1,250,000 funding campaign to improve the Van Wert Regional Airport. Shown presenting a pledge card for their $50,000 commitment are First Federal representatives Diana Cearns, Randy Myers, Lisa Lawson, airport manager Steve Bailey, First Federal president Brian Renner, First Federal’s Adam Ries, and Andy Czajkowski, Statewide Ford and a co-chair of the campaign. (Photo submitted)
First Federal of Van Wert made one of the important early commitments to the $1,250,000 funding campaign to improve the Van Wert Regional Airport. Shown presenting a pledge card for their $50,000 commitment are First Federal representatives Diana Cearns, Randy Myers, Lisa Lawson, airport manager Steve Bailey, First Federal president Brian Renner, First Federal’s Adam Ries, and Andy Czajkowski, Statewide Ford and a co-chair of the campaign. (Photo submitted)

VAN WERT — For the past few months a quiet, but effective, region wide fundraising campaign has been underway to pay for a new state-of-the-art terminal and additional improvements at the Van Wert County Airport, including extension of the current runway to 5,000 feet.

Leaders of the “Flight Plan for the Future” campaign, Chuck Koch, Koch Law Offices; Mike Keysor, Custom Assembly; Andy Czajkowski, Statewide Ford, and Bill Rager, Store and Haul have been busy presenting the case for the airport’s improvement to area businesses and others with a goal of raising $1,250,000 in multi-year commitments.

According to Mike Keysor, who also serves as chair of the Airport Authority, every dollar raised in the campaign will generate $19 from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in matching funds.

“However, the FAA’s dollars can only be used to pay for ‘air side’ improvements such as the runway, lighting, and aircraft parking. Local funding is for the FAA match and construction of the new terminal, which is long past the need for replacement,” he said.

The terminal building was constructed in 1939 and was last renovated in 1974.

Campaign leaders cite the importance of a modern municipal airport as critical to attracting and retaining employers who increasingly depend on corporate aircraft in conducting business.

“Our mega site will be far more competitive with the addition of a runway that will accommodate corporate aircraft requiring a minimum 5,000 ft. of runway. Our current runway is only 4,000 feet and is unsafe for business jets of any significant size,” said Andy Czajkowski who is also president of the Van Wert County Business Development Corporation.

“This is one of the community amenities that’s been overlooked for a long time,” said Chuck Koch, “and it’s a credit to our business community and area foundations that they recognize the importance of this aviation asset to the economic progress of our region.”