FOX 2 (WJBK) - The Selfridge Air Force base was in the running for an F-35 training center - but officials have learned they didn't make the cut.
"It’s probably the second time we’ve had somewhat of a letdown I guess, if you will," said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.
Hackel said he was disappointed to hear the Air Force will not be bringing its F-35 Fighter International Training Center to Selfridge Air National Guard Base as originally hoped.
Military sources confirm it will now be based out of Arkansas. Hackel was one of the biggest supporters of the Selfridge push.
"Coming in second place, it’s like anytime you are second place on a podium you are probably the person that’s smiling the least," he said. "But with that being said, we recognize that there’s an incredible amount of potential that Selfridge has, and the recognition that it’s gotten in Washington D.C. as an installation that is significant within our nation’s defense."
State leaders including Governor Gretchen Whitmer attempted to woo the Air Force in recent years - even putting up $100 million in state tax money to cover the upgrades needed to host the training center at the Macomb County facility.
But local officials FOX 2 spoke with, say there are a few reasons that make the decision against the Selfridge base somewhat expected.
"The airstrip for Selfridge has actually a clear zone," said Harrison Township Supervisor Kenneth Verkest. "Kind of the area, the beginning and end of the runway where accidents are most likely to happen. And unfortunately for us, that clear zone extends across the river and a small portion of one of our neighborhoods is in that clear zone.
"So that makes a lot of the decisions, the decision-makers a little more nervous about putting a fighter mission in an area that has people living in its clear zone."
Air Force leadership has stated the Arkansas base was a better choice because it would not need as many updates to infrastructure.
Still, Macomb County officials aren’t giving up hope for another mission to enhance Selfridge long-term.
"I think there’s a lot of conversation already. I don’t think they’re looking at this as kind of a one-off and waiting for the next thing,:" Hackel said. "I think they’re continuously looking at potential and opportunities and trying to figure out where strategically we’re headed with these issues they are taking place and the unsettled nature around the globe."