Following September 11 many airlines and airports began taking the heat from a drop in travel, but Marquette County's Sawyer International Airport posted its best year in 2001 with a 25 percent increase in passengers.
Marquette's airport, which was moved from Negaunee Township to the closed Sawyer Air Force Base in 1999, was one of only four Michigan airports that did not experience flight reductions after September 11.
While the former Air Force airfield has been transformed successfully into the regional airport and other base redevelopment efforts have taken place, the county is faced with disposing of two white elephant buildings on the base.
The base's command center and hospital have been vacant since the Air Force left in 1995 and have become very expensive for the county to maintain. In a creative marketing effort, Marquette County will offer the buildings rent-free to any businesses that would create 400 jobs and retain them for five years. At the end of those five years, the county would hand over the deed at no charge.