Piper staying in Vero Beach, county official says

April 30, 2008

Piper staying in Vero Beach, county official says

By Alton K. Marsh

The Indian River County Board of County Commissioners approved on April 28 a $12 million incentive package, to be added to $20 million from the state of Florida, to keep Piper Aircraft in Vero Beach.

Specifically, the deal requires Piper to build its PiperJet “or a comparable project” in the county, if not at the Vero Beach Airport.

Twice near the end of the meeting County Commissioner Gary Wheeler seemed to confirm that Piper has ruled out alternative sites of Albuquerque, N.M., and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “Our future looks brighter because you’re staying,” he told Piper President and CEO James K. Bass who was at the meeting. Bass had spoken early in the 20-minute meeting and promised to abide by the restrictions on the money.

The county money will be awarded in increments over the next three years. To obtain all of it, Piper must in that time invest $41 million in product development and capital equipment and increase the employment level by 200 new jobs. In addition, Piper must show 75 orders for the PiperJet and $5 million in deposits on the aircraft.

The final requirement is for Piper to announce in Vero Beach that it is staying and building the PiperJet in the area. Commissioners apologized for the delay in preparing the incentive package, saying they had hoped to present it last December.

April 30, 2008