Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft not only intends to keep its headquarters in Florida, it also aims to invest $87 million to expand its manufacturing operations in Vero Beach. Piper’s plans were finalized after a two-year site-selection process.
The company seriously considered relocating the plant outside of Florida. The turning point of the company’s decision to stay was support from the community. On a voluntary basis, a grassroots group of community leaders organized a “We Love Piper” campaign, paid through voluntary private donations and sponsorships totaling approximately $12,000. Because of the unequaled community support and incentive packages, Piper decided to stay and expand.
Piper’s commitment to the community is to create approximately 454 jobs by 2012 in addition to the approximately 963 that will be retained under this project. Piper is the largest private employer in Indian River County, and its impact on the county economy alone exceeds $518 million annually. Local officials feared that if Piper had moved from Indian River County, unemployment might have doubled.
Piper will receive a $32 million incentive package as part of the agreement between the company, the state and Indian River County. The project’s incentive package will help Piper make capital investments in facilities, technology, equipment and tooling, as well as create new jobs in undertaking the design, development, production and assembly of the PiperJet and other aircraft projects.
“Piper Aircraft’s continuing presence will mean thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in wages, economic development and other contributions for Indian River County, surrounding communities and our state,” Florida Governor Charlie Crist said. “Florida is continuing to attract cutting-edge, technology-based companies, like Piper, that expand our state’s innovation economy.”
“We are pleased and honored to announce our decision to remain and expand our operations in Indian River County,” said Jim Bass, president and chief executive officer of Piper. “Our decision is not just a vote of confidence for our hometown, it is also a commitment by Piper to Indian River County and the State of Florida.”