and a half years ago the federal government made the
decision to close K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base. The decision
meant the loss of more than 4,500 jobs and a military
payroll of over $100 million per year. The anticipated
impact to the area and economy was almost beyond comprehension.
However, many individuals and agencies did not give
up on Sawyer. Rather, they saw the prospect of developing
a community and creating new, diverse economic opportunities.
issue of the Sawyer News is dedicated to telling the
Sawyer story since 1993. It has taken a tremendous financial
and personal investment of effort, dedication and hard
work, but we are building a community to be proud of,
one that will continue to benefit the entire Marquette
Sawyer Air Force Base Facts
Annual operating cost: $19.2 million
Size: 5,200 acres
Housing Units: 1,650
History: Originally a civilian airport
Air Force Base established 1956
"SHOT DOWN" reads The Mining Journal headline
on June 25, 1993.
Washington - The moment of truth has come for Sawyer
Air Force Base. After long deliberations, the Defense
Base Closure and Realignment Commission voted unanimously
to accept the Pentagon's closure recommendation.
Bart Stupak indicates that putting the same vigor into
converting the base, as was put into trying to save
it, would make Sawyer's transition to civilian use a
model for the nation.
rate projected to soar to 24.2 percent.
Parsons, executive director of the Marquette Area Chamber
of Commerce, indicates that a conversion group will
Base Conversion Authority is appointed under legal authority
that authorizes a 5-year existence. Governance options
considered. Ellwood Mattson, Chairman, states "
is important to conclude a governance agreement to assure
prospective businesses that the Base will continue to
operate after the Authority ceases to exist."
Last B-52 prepares to leave Sawyer" - The Mining
Journal headlines read on November 22, 1994 . Base mission
ends with the plane's departure.
Mattson, chairman of the Sawyer Base Conversion Authority
was quoted , "There will be tears of sadness for
many of us left behind. I will be a part of those that
will shed tears,
But the Air Force is leaving us
a $300 million asset in our care and if we can all work
together, we can turn this base around and use it to
build a new and better tomorrow for all of us."
June - Tom Rumora is hired as director of K.I.Sawyer
Development Department. Rumora continues to direct Sawyer
re-development until September, 2001.
- The 410th Bomb Wing retires its colors at Sawyer Air
Force Base after more than three decades.
civilian businesses open at Sawyer: Gwinn-Sawyer Veterinary
Clinic, SENCO Inc., Marplex, Ramrod Hydraulics, R&G
Management (Red Fox Woods Golf Course)
ready to bounce back", The Mining Journal, August
2, 1995. Bud Zeug, president of the Gwinn Area Business
Association reports that "Just in the last few
weeks we've had seven new businesses come on line. We
have businesses that are growing. It didn't kill the
spirit of the people of Gwinn. We have people here working
hard to make things happen."
June unemployment rate at 8.3 percent, a 1.8 percent
increase over June 1994.
Bailey newly hired Sawyer Base Conversion Authority
director of operations, "I'm feeling very positive
about the future of the base." Bailey remains in
this position through 2000.
30 - Sawyer closes as a military base at midnight.
- Lake Superior Jobs Coalition forms to help spark development
at former AFB. Coalition is instrumental in re-locating
Marquette County Airport to Sawyer.
- AMR Eagle agrees to locate maintenance center at Sawyer,
making a 25-year commitment.
- Sault Ste. Marie Tribe takes over management of 275
homes and begins the first residential rentals.
March - Boreal Aviation begins its operation to provide
all aircraft ground services, starting with three employees,
growing to 15 by 2001.
- Marquette County assumes control of Caretaker operations
and Development Authority
Business Alliance is formed to represent Sawyer's growing
- Sawyer Lumber opens a $43-million high-tech sawmill,
the first of its kind in the Midwest; by March, 1998
employs 107 people; January, 1999 employs 210.
- West Branch Township takes lease on Health and Fitness
Center (future home of South Marquette County YMCA)
January - Sawyer Medical Center opens in former credit
union, where they remain for one year; moves to former
child development center January, 1999.
April - Progressive Tool (Now Comau/PICO) begins operations
at Sawyer as automotive tool design firm with 17 employees.
June - First Annual Sawyer EXPO organized by Sawyer
businesses to showcase current and potential development
- Victory Lutheran Church - first operating church at
Sawyer since base closure
- First Issue of Sawyer Tri Township News published
by Sawyer Business Alliance; published by K.I. Sawyer
Development until 2001; published by Sawyer Community
Association and Marquette County, 2001.