PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — Pekin Municipal Airport is getting a financial boost for what city leaders call “much-needed” projects.
The airport recently received $2 million in federal and state funding.
17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, (D-IL) said $1.85 million comes from the Rebuild Illinois capital program and $159,000 comes from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which President Joe Biden signed last month.
Bustos made a stop in Pekin, Thursday morning, and toured the airport. She said some funds will go toward expanding the airport’s entryways and replacing old fuel containers.
But she did say there’s another larger goal.
“This airport here in Pekin which has an annual economic impact of more than $9 million dollars could double its footprint right here on the side of the airport and then that economic impact could get as much as $20-$25 million dollars a year,” Bustos said.
She said it’s a smart use of funding that would not only help the airport but the community in the long run.
“When you get a return on investment, it’s important for the community,” Bustos said.
In 2021, the airport received Illinois’ General Aviation Airport of the Year award.
Mark Luft, Pekin’s mayor, said it’s a phenomenal accomplishment for the airport to receive that honor after there was almost consideration to sell it or even shut it down.
Luft said the airport is a crucial tool for the different businesses, companies, and farming communities that utilize it.
“This airport is substantial to them,” Luft said “It really needs to be here otherwise their only other recourse would be longer flights to different airports to get this.”
“Their airplanes would be stored much farther away, and you would have maybe a dirt strip for a plan for crop-dusters to land on their own property, which is not safe at all.”
He said one of the airport’s big accomplishment is that it was able to sustain a dealership for a plane manufactured out of Latvia. He said if things go well with the sales of that plane, the airport could possibly have a manufacturing facility for it.
“It’s all just moving forward,” Luft said. “We don’t see a stop with it. It continues to grow and we hope it does.”