Congresswoman Lauren Underwood is supporting a $1.125 million project to help strengthen DeKalb Airport as an economic development asset for the area.
Underwood, who represents the 14th District, visited the airport June 1 after selecting phase one of a crucial security fence upgrade as one of 15 Community Funding Projects that she will work to secure funding for in the next federal budget.
Installation of a ten-foot-high perimeter fence is required for DeKalb Airport to reach an upgraded FAA status. This upgraded status would allow the airport to handle larger jet aircrafts – an entirely new market for the airport that would result in enhanced revenue.
“This is going to be a net revenue generator,” Underwood said during her visit. “You’re going to be so busy. That’s what I want to have happen.”
Improving the financial viability of the airport will help ensure it can continue to attract new businesses and jobs to the DeKalb area. The airport is regularly used by longstanding DeKalb businesses, such as 3M and Target, and was a determining factor in Meta choosing DeKalb for its $1 billion data center.
The upgraded fencing would also improve safety. The existing four-foot fence is inadequate for keeping pedestrians and vehicles from accessing the airport property and can be easily hopped by coyote and deer, a cause of numerous arrival and departure delays.
The project would also include replacing the existing hinged gates with updated sliding gates providing quicker access for emergency response crews.
Following its selection by Congresswoman Underwood, the project is now subject to the congressional appropriations process for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget.
Photo: Congresswoman Lauren Underwood met with Assistant Public Works Director Andy Raih, Airport Manager Renee Riani, Airport Advisory Board Chair Robert Owens and City Manager Bill Nicklas at the DeKalb Airport on June 1.