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City, county OK Cessna incentives; preferred plant site revealed
City, county OK Cessna incentives; preferred plant site revealed

Cessna Aircraft Co. has identified space between its main campus on Highway K-42 and its Citation Service Center on Hoover Road as the preferred Wichita location for a new plant that will build the Citation Columbus business jet.

The location was released during a joint meeting of Sedgwick County commissioners and the City Council on Tuesday before both bodies unanimously approved providing at least $10 million in incentives for Cessna to build the Columbus in Wichita.

The local incentives are in addition to a $ 33 million package that was already approved by the state in early April.

Preliminary plans call for the construction of more than 800,000 square feet of buildings, 14 acres of airfield pavement and employee and visitor parking lots. Some work will need to be done on the site, including bringing in 500,000 cubic yards of fill dirt to build the elevation site.

Cessna, a subsidiary of the Textron Co. (NYSE:TXT), says it will hire 1,010 new employees to build the Citation Columbus and it is estimated that nearly 3,000 more jobs will be created in spin-off jobs.

In comments before voting Tuesday, commissioners and council members stressed the importance of keeping and maintaining the aviation industry by competing with other states looking to get a piece of the lucrative aviation industry.

The state needs to send a message to other states that "poaching is not accepted in this community," said William Buchanan, county manager.

Included in the deal is consolidating Cessna´s 11 separate lease agreements with the Columbus project into one 50-year lease agreement. The terms are being finalized by Cessna and the Wichita Airport Authority.

The city and county would offer Cessna the $ 10 million cash incentive as a forgivable loan. The loan proceeds would be used by Cessna for site preparation and paving and infrastructure for the new plant. The loan agreement would have a nine-year term. Equal amounts of loan principal would be forgiven for each year if employment and payroll for the program reach the milestones agreed upon.

The average salary of the 1,010 new workers would be more than $ 73,400 , Cessna has said. Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer called the deal with Cessna "historic" and emphasized that the aviation industry in the city and the state is one of "our prized possessions."

The Cessna Columbus business jet has a range of 4,000 miles, a top speed of 562 mph and seating configurable for up to ten passengers.


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