Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kestrel Aircraft CEO Speaks on Potential Aircraft Facility (With Video)

The potential for hundreds of local jobs hangs in the balance for the City of Superior. Will Kestrel Aircraft build it's new manufacturing plant in Superior or in Brunswick, Maine?

Kestrel Aircraft Chairman and CEO Alan Klapmeier gave Eyewitness News unprecedented access to Kestrel Aircraft's Design and Engineering offices in Duluth, as well as to the much talked about Kestrel airplane itself.

Klapmeier's passion for this airplane is evident and he said wants a decision on where the new facility will go more than anyone; should they locate in Superior or Maine?

"I was on the phone this morning with people in Maine who were telling me that it had been reported we had made a decision, and they were calling to find out if it was accurate," Klapmeier said. "No! We're either close, or more accurately, behind in both places."

Klapmeier said both communities know his company's stated goals, and in some ways, are facing a race to win. Whoever meets the goals first would get the plant and 600 potential jobs in their respective city.

"We've said, this is what it is, this is the hurdle. Show us you can get over the hurdle, whoever gets over the hurdle first wins. Both would be great locations to do this," Klapmeier said.

While that may be true, Klapmeier complimented Superior leaders for virtually creating this economic opportunity for themselves.

"The Superior people came over and basically said, 'Why not, Superior?', and I said because everything is working in Maine and Maine is going to be wonderful.'"

But Klapmeier called Superior city leaders impressively diligent in pressing forward for ways to contribute.

In the meantime, the decision also remains is in the hands of local, state and federal government entities. As the details are ironed out, Klapmeier had this to say to Northland residents in waiting: "I think the two things they need to know is, first, that no decision has been made yet. And while we are very happy with where things are going... if it happens we expect to do things that are great for the economy."

Klapmeier said he hopes the first Kestrel plane will come off the line in 2014. If Superior is chosen, he said the first 250 manufacturing jobs would be located at property on Winter Street, .with an additional 350 jobs at an Aircraft Assembly Facility on the Douglas County Fairgrounds.

The Douglas County Board meets on January 19 to discuss a potential land transfer of 13.3 acres to Kestrel to help make the deal a real possibility.

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