Airport runway a big boost for Thief River Falls


MPR file photo

Word from Congressman Collin Peterson’s office is that the Transportation Department is providing $1.6 million for a project to build a longer runway at the Thief River Falls airport.

The project is a big deal for a local business and a new tech school program.

A longer runway of 7,500 feet has long been on the wish list for folks at Digi Key, a company that distributes electronic parts all over the world. The company ships nearly two million packages a year, most by air. Fed Ex wants to bring in a 757 to pick up packages, the airport runway is too short. So that means multiple daily flights with smaller planes. A runway extension will simplify shipping and projected growth for Digi Key.

The longer runway is also critical for a new Unmanned Aircraft Maintenance program at Northland Community and Technical College. The college received a $5 million federal grant to start the new program this fall, but one of the requirements was a longer runway so large unmanned aircraft like the Global Hawk could land there.

There’s also a $2.5 million hanger expansion underway right now at the airport in Thief River Falls. That should be finished later this summer.