January 7, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
Despite a pre-Christmas announcement from Piper Aircraft that it will delay a second payment of incentive money from the state of Florida and Indian River County, progress on the PiperJet remains unaffected. Piper is closed for the holidays until Jan. 12.
Piper spokesman Mark Miller said that the company has not yet spent all the $10.667 million from the first payment. The county and state offered Piper a $32 million incentive package in three installments keyed to employment. The second installment is based on the employment of an average 1,166 workers by the end of 2009. Piper currently employs about 1,000 workers and has an annual payroll of $50 million.
Piper met the first benchmark of hiring 1,014 workers but could be subject to penalties if it falls below the benchmarks set as a condition for payment of the incentive money.
Miller noted that the county and state incentive package assures that Piper will remain in Vero Beach and build the PiperJet there, and provides work for local contractors. The first $10.667 million is helping to bring factory buildings up to Miami-Dade County hurricane standards and to purchase tooling and equipment.
Research on projects such as the PiperJet continues unaffected despite the delay in new hiring caused by economic conditions, Miller said.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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