In Huron County, OH, unemployment is 11.6 percent, a number well above the national average of 9.2 percent, and one that highlights the need for the area to do everything possible to create and keep jobs.
That's in part why Angela Phillips, who owns three manufacturing businesses and uses two Beechcraft Baron twin-engine piston aircraft to support the companies, donated $10,000 in June to persuade Huron County commissioners not to sell the Norwalk-Huron County Airport.
"Any city that shuts down its local airport, especially in these economic times, is cutting off its nose to spite its face," Phillips said. "Community airports are critical, especially for smaller businesses that everybody needs to bring back the economy."
Phillips said her company's reliance on the airport underscored the facility's value as a generator of jobs, economic activity and local investment. "We use the airport to take potential customers to visit our installations in other locations," she said, adding that her business is one of thousands of successful companies that use community airports to serve local clients, such as those in Huron County.
Phillips noted that none of her three manufacturing facilities are in Norwalk, or even Huron County, and her two business airplanes are based at the Mansfield Lahm Airport, about 40 miles south. Her closest manufacturing facility is Shelby Welded Tube in Shelby, OH, and her other two plants are Middletown Tube Works in southern Ohio and Dothan Tubular Products in Alabama.
The $10,000 Phillips donation, together with a $1,000 donation from Aerial Farming Services and $7,500 from the Norwalk-Huron Airport Board were presented to Huron county commissioners by the Friends of Huron County Airport in July. Combined, the public and private funds will make the airport eligible for about $400,000 in grants, but the County Commissioners have yet to sign the grant application for the FAA grants, pending a decision on the sale of the airport property.
An August 23 meeting of the Huron County Commissioners did not produce a decision about plans for sale of the airport.