County settles on new name for airport

A file photo of the newly renamed Marquette Sawyer Regional Airport is shown. The Marquette County board unanimously approved the rebrand as part of a massive upgrade project. (Journal file photo)


Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a name change to Sawyer International Airport during its Tuesday meeting, with the name changing to Marquette Sawyer Regional Airport.

The name change comes as part of the airport’s $20 million overhaul.

“I think I was on the board when we named it Sawyer International Airport and I never liked that ‘international’ in our name because it misleads people and it’s like we’re trying to be something we weren’t,” said Commissioner Bill Nordeen. “K.I. Sawyer is not an Air Force name, it’s our local name that the Air Force adopted.”

The airport was originally established in 1949 and was named after Kenneth Ingalls Sawyer, a former Marquette County road commissioner.

“I’m not sure rebranding helps a lot because at the end of the day I think that people choose their airlines, whether to use Sawyer, based on what flights are coming and going out of there, for convenience and by the cost of those flights,” Nordeen said. “You see people traveling to Escanaba, to Iron Mountain and to Green Bay because its cheaper flights, or better flights or more direct flights or whatever. So I’m not sure rebranding gets you where you want to be, which is more airport usage.”

The rebrand of the airport is one of many steps in the massive upgrade project, which will also include a new fire suppression system in the military aircraft hangar, new asphalt for the taxiway, terminal expansion, amongst other upgrades. The project will also upgrade security at the airport, which will allow the facility to host flights from bigger aircraft. All aspects of the project are currently slated to be wrapped up in 2027.

The Sawyer portion of the name change was added to one of two suggested names from California-based marketing firm, Hiltachk Marketing Group, which suggested Marquette Regional Airport earlier in March. Hiltachk was awarded $78,200 in 2022 to take the lead on the airport’s rebranding project.

Randy Crouch can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. His email address is rcrouch@miningjournal.net.


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