Sunday, September 29, 2013

Our View: Morgan Aircraft dream comes crashing down

The clock of economic reality is ticking for Morgan Aircraft.

The company has until Tuesday to come up with nearly $30,000 in past-due rent to Sheboygan County on its lease at Sheboygan County Memorial Airport. The county and the state may also seek repayment on loans and airport improvements after Morgan signed a 50-year lease four years ago.

We wish the fanfare of four years ago had not come to this. Morgan Aircraft, based in Oostburg, announced plans to build a 600,000-square-foot manufacturing plant and offices at the airport. It hoped to one day build a line of airplane-helicopter hybrids capable of vertical takeoffs and landings.

The company hoped to be producing aircraft by 2016 that could be used as air ambulances, search and rescue aircraft, corporate jets and as unmanned military drones. The county threw in nearly $160,000 for site improvements, including a road. The venture never got off the ground, however, and the Morgan Aircraft dream remains just that at this point.

Sheboygan County wisely took a cautious approach to additional investment in the project. The county was placed in a difficult position. Morgan Aircraft promised its project could create up to 2,000 needed jobs, which would leave any unit of government salivating.

However, it became plain that the company was having difficulty in securing private investors during a time of economic difficulty. Even though the recession was spelled with a small “r,” it clearly affected investment in a project that had some massive potential.

We do not rule out a last-minute deal to save this venture, but we wouldn’t bank on it, either. The parties will need to move on. That will obviously be much more difficult for Morgan Aircraft. It takes courage to fly into a venture of the magnitude of this one, and it will be a major disappointment if the venture ultimately fails.

This country was built on the type of entrepreneurial drive that Morgan Aircraft displayed in seeking to bring its novel concept to fruition. Company co-founder Brian Morgan said the firm is restructuring. We hope that allows the company to continue to innovate in a way that ultimately will be profitable.

If the lease is terminated, the county can seek out other entrepreneurs to take over Morgan’s space at the airport. County Administrator Adam Payne said the infrastructure already in place has helped attract interest from firms looking to begin operations, expand or relocate.

The best outcome would be for Morgan Aircraft to pay its bills and pursue its dream. Unfortunately, it appears that scenario will not fly.

Story and Comments/Reaction:

No comments:

Post a Comment