Friday, December 30, 2011

Former Cirrus founder eyes Superior for new endeavor: The deal hasn’t been finalized but a formal announcement could be coming in the next couple of weeks.

The city of Superior is in the running for an airplane manufacturing facility that could create 300 permanent jobs initially and up to 600 jobs by 2016.

Kestrel Aircraft Co. — led by founder and former head of Duluth-based Cirrus, Alan Klapmeier — has been in negotiations with the city and state of Wisconsin since mid-July to discuss the possibility of siting a manufacturing plant in Superior, Mayor Bruce Hagen said.

The city’s Redevelopment Authority is slated to hold a public hearing Jan. 16 to consider a development agreement with the company.

The deal hasn’t been finalized but a formal announcement could be coming in the next couple of weeks, Hagen said.

In fact, state officials with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority were presenting the company with their proposal on Thursday, the mayor said. He expects a decision sometime after the company has a chance to review the proposal.

With design operations in Duluth and an office in Brunswick, Maine, Kestrel Aircraft Co. plans to manufacture a single-engine turboprop, largely carbon-fiber composite plane designed to carry up to eight passengers and a pilot, according to the business plan presented to the city.

“This is a significant number of jobs right now, but it will continue to be a significant number of jobs in the years to come,” said Jim Caesar, an economic development consultant contracted by the city. “They have plans beyond this prototype that will require additional workers well into the future. … This is an ongoing thing.”

Dave Minor, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber, said he expects the facilities to rival employment in shipbuilding in the Twin Ports during World War II if the project becomes a reality.

Under the terms of the development agreement, the city would provide assistance with the project with the sale of land, grants and tax-increment financing to encourage the development.

In addition, the state might provide tax credits, Port and Planning Director Jason Serck said.

Superior is just one site among many being considered for the manufacturing facility.

Company spokeswoman Kate Dougherty declined to comment on the proposal.


Sources: 
http://www.duluthnewstribune.com
http://www.superiortelegram.com

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