Friday, December 07, 2012

Piper, state agree on amended incentive package; Indian River close

By Ed Bierschenk 
Posted December 7, 2012 at 7:44 p.m.

 VERO BEACH — Piper Aircraft Inc. may have to pay back some of the $10.6 million in incentive money it received from the state and county in 2008, but only if the number of workers at the company dips below current employment levels, according to a draft settlement agreement signed Friday with the company.

The state has reached an agreement with Piper over its incentive package, while the county is working on a somewhat similar agreement that is expected to be ready for the Dec. 18 County Commission meeting.

"Following a worldwide recession in general aviation, Piper is managing to emerge as a strong company with a backlog and a global presence in the aerospace industry," said Piper President and Chief Executive Officer Simon Caldecott in a prepared statement. "As the largest manufacturer exporter in Indian River County, we are gratified that the state has recognized our ongoing contributions to Florida, Indian River County and Vero Beach."

Indian River County Attorney Alan Polackwich said the agreement is "a compromise.

"This recognizes that they didn't do everything (called for in the agreement), but they did do quite a bit."

Whether the county commission will sign off on the agreement is unknown. At one time, Indian River County Commission Chairman Joe Flescher said that Piper should be held to the commitments it made in the original agreement.

The agreement is an amendment to the original incentive contract Piper entered into with the state in 2008.

That contract along with one Piper entered into with Indian River County called for the company to receive up to $32 million for reaching certain benchmarks in employment, wages and capital investment. Of the total, $20 million was to come from the state and $12 million from the county.

Piper received about $6.6 million from the state and $4 million from the county in 2008 after reaching certain benchmarks in employment, wages, and capital investment. It had at least 1,014 employees with an annual average wage of $46,500 not including benefits.

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