Small price to pay for economic development

It took more lobbying than it probably should have to convince the Ontonagon County Board to purchase an Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) for the airport, but after a parade of pilots, local business and municipal representatives, it finally made the right decision last week.

If you just look at the initial cost of $191,184, then, yes, the purchase might give some pause. But when you consider the potential in economic development, that is what some might call chump change.

Besides, $165,000 would be paid by a federal grant. The local match of $26,184 will be covered by the Carl Thornton fund.

Without AWOS, potential investors in Ontonagon would have to land elsewhere, making a trip longer and more of a hassle by forcing them to fly to other areas, such as Iron Mountain or Houghton. Imagine an investor landing in Iron Mountain and then realizing there will be another couple of hours to get to the place where an investment is being considered.

The improved transit to the Ontonagon region will pay off in establishing the Copperwood mine, both in getting executives there to do business and for emergency transport to the Wausau hospital trauma center in case of a worker injury.

In addition to economic development, the system will provide access to detailed weather information for residents of the region, including the marine forecast.

The county will have to pay $6-8,000 per year in maintenance costs, but again, considering the system’s economic development potential, that will be a small price to pay.

A Daily Mining Gazette editorial