Aircraft manufacturer Cirrus is building a $12.7 million painting and finishing facility that will bring 150 new jobs to Duluth. Company officials plan to build the 68,000 square-foot facility in the Duluth Airport Industrial Park, near the company’s existing operations.
The expansion is being driven by growing customer demand for the company’s aircraft, including the new $2 million Vision SF50 jet, which Cirrus expects to begin delivering in the second half of the year. The company has firm orders for more than 550 of the single-engine personal jets.
“The development of Cirrus Aircraft is a quintessential Minnesota story. Like many Minnesota entrepreneurs, the Klapmeier brothers employed ‘How can we do this better?’ thinking – before building their first airplane in their parents’ barn. Today, Cirrus employs 675 people in Duluth and is an industry leader,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “This Minnesota Investment Fund grant will help Cirrus bring its one-of-kind single-engine jet to market, while creating 150 good new jobs in Duluth.”
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is supporting the project with a $4 million loan from the Minnesota Investment Fund. The loan will be forgiven if the company meets its hiring and investment commitments.
The new jobs will pay up to $14 an hour plus benefits and bring the company’s workforce to about 825 employees in Duluth. Total expansion costs will be nearly $16 million, including the new building, infrastructure and equipment.
“The completion center is another chapter in the remarkable Cirrus success story,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “We are fortunate to have a company of this caliber in Minnesota and thankful for their commitment to Duluth and the state.”
Brothers Alan and Dale Klapmeier and business partner Jeff Viken founded Cirrus in 1984 to produce a kit aircraft called the VK-30. They formed Cirrus Design and started building a prototype of the plane in the barn of the Klapmeiers’ parents in Baraboo, Wis. The company delivered its first aircraft kits in 1988. By 1994, Cirrus had relocated to a much larger facility in Duluth.
The company eventually discontinued production of the kit aircraft and today manufactures three models: the SR20, SR22 and SR22T . Last June, the company celebrated the delivery of its 6,000th aircraft. Cirrus also has an aircraft components manufacturing facility in Grand Forks, N.D., and is developing a “Vision Center” that will be located in Knoxville, Tenn.
The Minnesota Investment Fund awards loans that businesses can use for improving their operations and hiring additional workers. Program funds are disbursed to local governments and then provided as loans to businesses. Last year, the program awarded $11.2 million in loans to 21 businesses, helping to create more than 1,700 jobs and leverage $1.4 billion in private funding.
More details about the program are here.
DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and our services, visit us at the DEED website (http://mn.gov/deed) or go to our Twitter account (http://twitter.com/mndeed).