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Duluth airport's Brian Ryks wins state aviation leadership award

The list of accomplishments was long as Brian Ryks, executive director of the Duluth Airport Authority, accepted a prestigious statewide aviation award on Friday.

Brian Ryks
Brian Ryks

The list of accomplishments was long as Brian Ryks, executive director of the Duluth Airport Authority, accepted a prestigious statewide aviation award on Friday.

The Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Promotion of Aviation came during the final session of the Minnesota Council of Airports meeting in Duluth. The award recognizes leadership that has made a major contribution to the betterment of aviation.

Nominated by the Duluth Airport Authority Board, Ryks was acknowledged for getting construction of a new airport terminal started. Ryks, the airport director since 2002, first went to the board five years ago with his vision for a new airport terminal, said board President Nancy Norr.

"The need and reasons were clear, but his plan was bold and beyond any capital improvement project ever undertaken," Norr said in a statement.

With careful planning, due diligence, community support building, regional outreach and Ryks "pitching a tent at the Capitol," Duluth has state and federal funding committed to pay for the $65 million project, she said.

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Construction is under way, with Phase I nearing completion and Phase II slated to begin in mid- to late-summer.

Ryks also was credited with helping to recruit Allegiant Air and United Airlines to Duluth and facilitating Don Monaco's purchase of the Fixed Base Operation at the airport. Ryks has taken leadership roles in the aviation industry statewide, in regional economic development efforts and has made an impact on the national level, Norr said.

"It's been an honor to help the Northland move forward," Ryks said, noting that other people have helped create these successes as well.

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