From left to right are Toby Steffen (BF&S), Steve Bailey (Airport Manager), Mike Keysor (President of Airport Authority 2018) and Paul Schaffer (BF&S). (Photo submitted)
From left to right are Toby Steffen (BF&S), Steve Bailey (Airport Manager), Mike Keysor (President of Airport Authority 2018) and Paul Schaffer (BF&S). (Photo submitted)

VAN WERT — The Van Wert County Regional Airport Authority is charged with overseeing the Van Wert County Airport and its day-to-day operation. The seven-member volunteer authority guides the development and growth of the airport primarily through personnel management and capital improvement planning. The airport has recently become more pro-active and aggressive in creating an airport that is not only inviting to General Aviation traffic but striving to provide the needs of the corporate traveler and become the front door to the community and represent the northwest Ohio area.

The last three years at the Van Wert County Airport have seen a change in direction and attitude as the Airport Authority has identified a 10-year plan to transform the airport into the economic generator it can be. A look back at the previous 20-year period shows the airport was primarily in a maintain status rather than growth. Like most General Aviation airports, funding is often the roadblock to transformation, and this was true for Van Wert as well. Seeing a struggle just to match FAA grants, and upcoming projects like a new terminal building that don’t compete well for grants, the Authority got creative. A capital fundraising campaign was prepared with a goal to raise in excess of $1 million dollars. This would provide 10-years of FAA grant matching funds, but even more importantly allow for a new terminal building to be constructed replacing the 75+ year old current structure. Other funding needs included hangar upgrades and equipment.

The Authority, with the assistance of local business leaders, met with and explained the value of the airport to philanthropists. By the end of the campaign nearly $1.2 million dollars were pledged to the airport’s future. A relatively small community coming together to support the local airport to this scale is likely unheard of in Ohio. The new terminal will provide a fresh face to the community. It will be built on the south side of the airport which provides ample space for future growth and development. The aircraft apron will be constructed in 2019 to allow corporate jets to utilize the airport in a safe manner and not block the taxiway system. The airport finally will be developed into the economic driver it can be due to the hard work of volunteers and the financial support of those who understand the importance of the Van Wert County Airport