Merrill Mayor Bill Bialecki, left with shovel, and Airport Commission Chairman Gary Schwartz were joined by representatives of the Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce at a groundbreaking for the new airport terminal Monday.
Merrill Mayor Bill Bialecki, left with shovel, and Airport Commission Chairman Gary Schwartz were joined by representatives of the Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce at a groundbreaking for the new airport terminal Monday.
More than 80 percent of all new or additions to manufacturing take place within 10 miles of a transport category airport in the state of Wisconsin. The Merrill Airport Commission was aware of this fact in 2001 when the planning stage began for extensive upgrades to the Merrill Municipal Airport. 
Ground was broken Monday for a new airport terminal building to be constructed off of Champagne Street. According to Airport Commission Chairman Gary Schwartz; the estimated $400,000 project is the last of several improvements to airport infrastructure that began in 2002.
Features of the new terminal will include a lounge for corporate pilots; complete with a television, chairs, restroom facilities and a snack area. Construction is expected to begin this week, with an anticipated completion date of Nov. 1.
When embarking on the strategic plan, the Airport Commission benchmarked Merrill against other like size communities and cities and found that the Merrill Airport was lacking in a number of areas. A strategic plan was developed and followed through. The support of City of Merrill leadership was instrumental for the work that has been done at the Merrill Municipal Airport over the last 12 years, Schwartz said.  
Mayor Bill Bialecki has been a strong supporter of the rebuilding of Merrill’s airport. Bialecki and Schwartz put their shovels to work to turn the first dirt over for the new terminal that will be built on the Champagne Street site.  
“This new airport terminal will be the ‘welcome mat’ for the city of Merrill,” says Gary Schwartz, airport commission chairman. “It is the first thing business men and women flying into Merrill to do business here will experience. It will be the new gateway, the front door to this city and surrounding communities. It will represent the City of Merrill well.”
The project is being funded mainly by the Federal Aviation Administration, which is contributing $326,748. The state of Wisconsin is providing $17,370, with the city of Merrill also paying $17,371.
Merrill Municipal Airport is one of 98 facilities included in the Wisconsin State Airport System Plan, which makes it eligible for state and federal funding. Airport improvement projects are administered through WisDOT’s Bureau of Aeronautics.