From an iconic military installation with 690 civilian positions, the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base has turned into a mixed-use redevelopment with over 1,660 workers on site.
The former Wurtsmith Air Force Base (AFB) properties are being reutilized by 28 businesses and agencies that collectively employ more than 1,660 workers (representing 240 percent of civilian jobs lost). These organizations primarily fall into seven types of activities: aviation, manufacturing, technology, medical, housing, education, community services and technology.
The Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Authority serves as the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) for the airfield and industrial areas of the former Wurtsmith AFB. The former military airfield and aircraft maintenance support facilities can accommodate all types of aircraft–from the smallest to the largest. These assets have positioned Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport to operate as a viable and attractive location for the provision of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services. Four aircraft maintenance businesses have established operations at Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport. These companies collectively employ over 1,200 workers. All of the former military aircraft hangars are occupied by these companies, as well as two additional 80,000 sq. ft. aircraft maintenance hangars that have been constructed post-base closure.
Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport continues to have excess capacity in terms of runway use time availability, aircraft parking areas, and extensive development site properties. As such, the Master Plan involves efforts to attract a wider variety of aircraft maintenance and repair service providers to establish business operations at Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport. The goal is to fully develop Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport as a “one stop” aircraft services maintenance depot. The envisioned development will also further stimulate and grow the regional economy, recover lost population, and create “living wage” jobs.
P&L Development is a company providing metal manufacturing for aerospace and auto-related parts as well as weapons. Oscoda Plastics supplies Duro-Last with roofing components and manufactures commercial flooring. Tip Top Screws fabricates screws. Phoenix Composite Solutions manufactures and repairs aircraft structural components.
Aune Medical Facility, the former base hospital, is owned by the Township of Oscoda and has been converted for new medical uses by several tenants. They include a local office of MidMichigan Health, a division of the University of Michigan Healthcare System, AuSable Valley Mental Health Clinic, Alcona Health and Dental Center, and a chiropractor. In addition, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs operates a community outpatient clinic in the facility. In 2016, they increased their clinic size with a $1.2 million renovation and expanded services to their patients.
Aspen Square Management purchased the base housing from the Township, redeveloped the property, and sold individual housing units to private owners. There are 758 houses in the Villages of Oscoda. Another developer converted a former dormitory into 86 senior condo units.
The Alpena Community College has its Huron Shores Campus on Wurtsmith District. They are expanding curriculum programs and provide vocational training in manufacturing to high school graduates. The college works with both manufacturing and aviation businesses located on the Wurtsmith District to facilitate internship opportunities, and those same businesses provide engines and equipment for the college labs.
The former base gym is owned by the Township and is now the Oscoda Township Community Center, which operates as a gymnasium along with instructor-led classes. There are three churches located within the Wurtsmith District, one of which occupies the former chapel building. The movie theater has been converted by the Shoreline Players Community Theater group for producing live stage shows. The former base library is owned by the Township as serves the community as the Robert J. Parks public library.
Crusecom operates a call-center employing currently employing over 200 people.
The 1991 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended the closure of Wurtsmith AFB. On June 30, 1993, the Air Force formally closed operations at the base, resulting in the loss of 690 civilian positions.
The Wurtsmith Base Conversion Authority was the initial redevelopment authority until 1994, when the Township of Oscoda and Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Authority assumed responsibility as LRAs.
Of the 4,626 acres of former Wurtsmith properties, approximately, 2,220 acres were conveyed to Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Authority. Oscoda Township acquired 1,957 acres (including former military family housing units and 50 acres of outdoor sports complex) through an economic development conveyance.
Updated October 2020