Projects and events are really taking off at the Vermilion Regional Airport.

The state awarded the airport two projects through the Rebuild Illinois Program — $500,000 for upgrading the airport’s security gates and replacing the remaining 4 feet perimeter fencing with 6 feet fencing, and $350,000 for repaving the two entrance roads. The airport is responsible for paying 10 percent of those projects, so a total of $85,000 — $50,000 for the fence upgrade and $35,000 for the entrance roads.

“The point of the Rebuild Illinois Program was to award projects that would not receive federal funding. We applied for four projects, and the two that were awarded were chosen because the other two projects were good candidates for federal funds. There is no word from the state yet on when we should expect the funding and a timeline of when the projects need to be completed. Once that timeline information is released, we will begin the projects as soon as possible,” according to Vermilion Regional Airport Manager Alex Gale.

Gale reviewed some airport projects that occurred this year.

“In 2021, we completed the renovation and dedication of The Flight Line Event Center. It is open to the public for rental and we are accepting reservations for 2022. Part of the renovation included an outdoor space that is open to the public at all times for them to enjoy the airfield and watch aircraft. In the summer, there is a shade sail and beautiful landscaping,” according to Gale.

“After many years of research and work, we have been able to bring in over 6,000 parcels of land to the airport taxing district, allowing the taxes to be distributed equitably and lowering the taxed amount for the parcels that were previously being taxed,” she says.

Gale also says they hosted the only drive-thru COVID vaccination clinic in the county. They were able to vaccinate more than 1,200 individuals.

Construction of the airport’s new cold storage building was completed in 2021. The building allows for all of the airport’s equipment to be centrally located, allows for space for future equipment and provided the opportunity to include two new office spaces to be used for flight training and continuing education.

This year was a record year for Balloons Over Vermilion, as it saw the most people in a single day than any years previously.

The airport hosted its first annual Trunk or Treat with an attendance of more than 2,000 children.

“We had families from as far as St. Louis and Indianapolis travel to Vermilion Regional Airport just to attend the event,” according to Gale.

“We’ve partnered heavily with Vermilion Advantage and have hosted Business After Hours, Business Networking Luncheon and the Young Professionals Network Coffee and Conversations. By hosting these events, we’ve been able to show and remind local businesses what an asset the airport can be to their company,” she added.

An economic impact study was completed for aviation in Illinois, and it was determined the Vermilion Regional Airport has an economic impact of $10.5 million.

“In 2021 we recorded over 30 different businesses that have flown into Vermilion Regional Airport on business jets. This is important to note, because these larger aircraft buy more fuel and are flying into our airport to do business in our community,” Gale added.

Gale is excited about upcoming 2022 events.

“For 2022, we plan to continue all the great things we’ve accomplished in 2021 (Balloons Over Vermilion, Trunk or Treat, Vermilion Advantage events, etc.) and continue to strengthen and improve the airport as a community resource. We are planning on hosting more events and are looking forward to having food trucks at the airport to support small business and attract people to the airport both by land and air. Some of the events that we are looking into include car shows, movie nights, and an Easter egg hunt,” according to Gale.

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