SAWYER - Three months into a U.S. Small Business Administration grant, organizers of the Upper Michigan Green Aviation Coalition are looking forward to bringing business and job opportunities to the area.
A representative from the SBA was in the area this week to celebrate the awarding of the $600,000 grant to the coalition at a press conference at Sawyer International Airport Wednes- day. The grant award was originally an- nounced in October.
The green aviation coalition, which has grown to include more than 48 members, focuses on the Sawyer air- port, the Delta County airport and the Houghton County airport as central points for area businesses to build around the concept of green aviation.
"It really does add synergy to things so you don't have a bunch of businesses off doing their own thing," said Bob Es- linger, executive director of business services for Michigan Works The Job Force Board and co-chair of the coali- tion's Human Resources Working Group. "We think that's really critical to the job growth."
The coalition or cluster of businesses is set to stimulate business by working together around green aviation, with an aviation recycling center planned for
the Sawyer airport, for example. The grant money provides business training, commercialization and technology transfer services, counseling and other services to help the businesses move forward.
"The majority of companies have per- fected the processes in the lab," said Paul Arsenault, co-chair of the Business and Processes Working Group for the coalition.
The grant money will help make processes for recycling composite ma- terials used on aircraft and other new technologies commercially viable.
"The contract award to the Upper Michigan Green Aviation Coalition will accelerate the growth and opportunities for its members," Arsenault said. "It will allow them to be competitive on a global level."
Although it could be two years before the public could see planes coming in to be recycled, working through the coali- tion is allowing partner businesses to get training and connections with na- tional companies, said Vikki Kulju, ex- ecutive director of Telkite Enterprises and co-chair of the coalition's branding and promotion group.
Kulju said besides developing tech- nologies for recycling airplanes, the coalition will also help develop tech- nologies to make airports themselves more energy efficient.
"You have to find ways to be more ef- ficient," she said. "On the research and development side, it's just endless."
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.