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Sheboygan Airport Adding US Customs Facility Before Ryder Cup

Officials Hope To Bring International Reach To City

rendering of the U.S. Customs facility at the Sheboygan County Memorial Airport
A rendering of the U.S. Customs facility at the Sheboygan County Memorial Airport. Photo courtesy of Sheboygan County Transportation Department

The Sheboygan County Memorial Airport is getting an upgrade after years of anticipation and planning.

The small airport is preparing to break ground for a U.S. Customs facility that would allow for direct international flights to Sheboygan. The $4.2 million investment project has been in the works since 2012.

The Kohler Co., based in the village of Kohler, is one of the largest tenants for the airport.

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The company — known for plumbing products and manufacturing furniture, engines, tiles and generators — operates in 40 countries and was the first to express the need for an international terminal, said Greg Schnell, transportation director for Sheboygan County.

“They are all over the globe,” Schnell said. “And with having that as an opportunity of this being a customs area and they can go right from our airport to wherever they need to be in another country and come back here and not have to go through the traditional customs as they would in some of the larger airports.”

Sheboygan County and the Kohler Co. have entered into a long-term agreement that the company will pay for the new customs agents, as well as the equipment that goes along with having a customs facility. Schnell said that once the airport becomes a known international destination in Wisconsin, the user fees will offset the company’s responsibilities. Eventually, he said the county will be able to charge for the use of customs and they will be able to use fuel sales to support the operation.

The hope is to break ground in November and work throughout the winter, Schnell said, because the county wants the facility to be up and running by May for the Ryder Cup next September at Whistling Straits in Kohler. With the customs facility up and running, visitors from all over the world could have the opportunity to fly directly to Sheboygan for the global golf event.

“Now when those people come, obviously, there are going to be other businesses, so what we want to do is showcase what Sheboygan County has to offer,” Schnell said.

“We’re excited. I think there is a lot of room for development for us,” Schnell explained. “A lot of times airports are looked at as well is it a need? In our particular case it is.”