U.S. rep gets update on two NR projectsU.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisconsin’s Third District) swung through New Richmond on Monday to hear about the progress of several ongoing projects.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisconsin’s Third District) swung through New Richmond on Monday to hear about the progress of several ongoing projects.
Kind stopped by the New Richmond Regional Airport to take a look at the site of a new taxiway, a service road and future business hangars.
The airport recently secured $445,000 in funding from the Federal Aviation Administration for the project. The City of New Richmond will pay just $11,718 toward the completion of the expansion and the state will also chip in $11,718.
The funds will be used to develop a northeast hangar area, which will include construction of a connecting taxiway, hangar taxi lanes and an entrance road. The project will provide additional room for future development of hangars and industrial buildings.
Airport Manager Mike Demulling told Kind that the project helps pave the way for bringing 160-170 jobs to the local economy. Currently there are about 30 to 35 people working at the airport, he estimated.
“We wanted to say thanks for all your support in this project,” Demulling told Kind. “We’re thankful for any federal support we can get.”
Kind said the federal funding comes from the federal aviation fuel tax and is meant to stimulate growth around airports.
“It all helps add to the overall economy,” Kind told Demulling.
Business at the airport has been slow the past three or four years, Demulling admitted, but things are shaping up well for 2011.
“We’ll be ready for next year,” he said. “That is going to be a very good year at the airport.”
Among the hopeful projects is the potential for a growing airplane engine business to move into a new building at the airport.
Demulling said the company, Engineered Propulsion Systems, is located in New Richmond and is poised to begin production on a light weight diesel engine for the aviation industry.
The company expects to grow to a multi-million company within the next five years.
Kind also stopped by the EPS offices in downtown New Richmond to get an update from co-owners Steven Weinzierl and Michael Fuchs.
Kind met with the entreprenuers last spring and wanted to get an update on their progress.
Weinzierl and Fuchs said they are gathering the necessary working capital and should be able to assemble an engine prototype by early next year.
Then they hope to generate enough interest that they can move forward with new production facilities in New Richmond.
Fuchs said they have talked with military officials about their new diesel engine but have had no luck in gathering federal backing to move the project forward.
If the engine performs as projected, Fuchs said the military alone could save up to $100 million a year in fuel costs.
Kind said he would try to connect the business owners with the appropriate decision makers in the Pentagon.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is searching for cost savings within the military budget and the EPS engine sounds like a good place to start, Kind said.
Later in the day, Kind attended listening sessions in River Falls and Hudson, meeting with constituents, gathering their feedback and answering their questions.