The Cloquet Carlton County Airport is expanding its pilot-training facilities, creating what area boosters call an aeronautics workforce training center, with a $1.2 million federal grant announced Friday.

The funds — along with an additional $291,700 from Minnesota Department of Transportation and $14,400 from private, local funds — will be used to build a new hangar with classroom space that will house Venture North Aviation, a company offering pilot training and certification courses.

Dana Gartzke, acting assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and local dignitaries gathered at the airport Friday to announce the $1.5 million project. The federal aid earmarked by the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 is the project’s primary funding source.

Carlton County was eligible for these funds due to damages sustained in the 2018 floods.

The general aviation airport is very popular, said Brenda Nyberg, grant administrator for Carlton County Economic Development Department. The new hangar space, she said, will free up aircraft storage for other airplane hobbyists and businesses.

Venture North Aviation will also use the funds to hire more staff, which will allow them to certify more pilots, reducing their program’s waitlist from five months to two months.