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Owatonna’s airport set to unveil master plan soon

Lead Summary

Owatonna’s Degner Regional Airport is flying at great heights to plan for its future. 
Information and display boards will be set up for residents to review. Officials will address topics such as airport inventory, airport forecasts, facility recommendations and alternatives analyzed. The airport’s consultant and staffers will be available to answer questions.
Dave Beaver, manager of the airport, said the planning process for the master plan has been going on for the past year. 
“This is an important process for us. We’re excited and we want the public to be involved,” Beaver said. “The purpose of the open house is to receive feedback from the community,” he added.
One of the biggest questions facing the airport is whether the current runway will meet the future needs of the area. The runway is 1,500 feet and handles many corporate jets. Beaver said about 17 companies in Owatonna use the airport on a regular basis. 
As part of the master plan, one idea being kicked around is extending the runaway an additional 1,500 feet to allow for future aircraft needs. Beaver said it’s important to unveil such a plan so the airport can avoid getting landlocked in the future.
“Our runway is plenty big right now, but we need to look ahead and be ready for whatever happens down the line,” said Todd Hale, who is vice chairman of the Owatonna Airport Commission. He added he expects more jet traffic to use the local airport in another decade or more. 
A master plan advisory group wasestablished in October 2013. The group is made up of members from the city, city council, economic development authority, airport commission, aviation business owners, surrounding landowners, county staffers, airport tenants, MnDOT and FAA.
The group supports a runway expansion to help the airport meet the needs of the existing and future users, and to support the economic growth of Owatonna, according to Beaver.
There has been extensive growth around the airport in recent years. “With the community growth, we want to make sure we are planning for our future growth,” Beaver said. 
He said the advisory group and the city will have to approve the master plan. Once it is approved locally, it will be sent to MnDOT and the FAA for review and approval.
Owatonna is one of 140 airports across the state and is considered one of 25 “key systems airports.” There are 54 aircraft based out of the Owatonna airport. 
Beaver said he expects more growth and use of the airport. He looks at the airport as “another tool for economic development” of the area. He said the airport is often factored into the decision of companies looking to relocate to the area.
 “It serves the public pretty well,” Beaver said of the local airport. “We’re pretty proud of our existing airport. There is an investment here that we want to protect.”

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