North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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46 N O R T H C A R O L I N A E C O N O M I C D E V E L O P M E N T G U I D E business. But Christensen, of the Greensboro Partnership, might argue that point. In July 2016, he was one of 1,500 exhibitors from 52 countries who traveled to the ancient town for the Farnborough International Airshow, the industry's most prominent get-together. Christensen spent nine hours on his feet inside the convention hall, then entertained prospects at dinner before fi nally climbing into his hotel bed late at night. "It's a great location, but typically the only time you see any of the sights are on the cab ride to and from the airport," he says. However, the inconvenience is worth the eff ort because of the story Christensen can tell prospective PTI tenants — and the main character in that tale is HAECO. Since deregulation of the airline industry in 1978, global air traffi c has continued to double every 15 years. The only other industry with that type of growth is technology, but unlike Apple with its iPhones, airlines can't replace their planes every two years. Planes often are in service longer than three decades. At the same time, aerospace and aviation manufacturers are building bigger and wider aircraft. Boeing's 777X, for instance, boasts a wingspan of 235 feet, three-quarters the length of a football fi eld. In short, HAECO needed a larger hangar, and there was no better place to build it than at PTI. "There's good logistics infrastructure here," says Richard Kendall, CEO of HAECO Americas. "We work closely with local educational institutions, and the scale of aviation in the area provides a better opportunity to have people trained." It helps that state and local governments are willing to invest in the Triad's future by providing economic support to HAECO and other companies expanding in the region. The state committed to funding $4 million of the $9 million needed for the grading of the 24-acre site, while the city of Greensboro and Guilford County approved $400,000 in incentives, each tied to the 500 jobs HAECO will add between 2018 and 2023. The Golden LEAF Foundation, established to provide grants to rural areas and regions once dependent on tobacco production, also kicked in $1 million for infrastructure improvements. This kind of support isn't rare in the Triad: The High Point City Council and the Guilford County Board of Commissioners have each pledged $147,000 in performance-based economic incentives for HAECO's new 250,000-square- foot aircraft-interiors facility. The money will match a One North Carolina Fund contribution of $294,000 tied to the company moving 252 jobs from California to North Carolina and creating 147 full-time jobs with an average annual wage of $60,000. "When we're pursuing these things, we've made the case very loudly to the state of North Carolina that it's the largest benefi ciary," PTI's Baker says, adding that the state has "risen to the occasion every time." Baker also points outs that the state paid for the $15 million grading of the HondaJet site, where the company's workers earn an average of $70,000 to $75,000 a year. "The state's $15 million has already been recouped through payroll taxes." With HAECO's fi fth hangar well on its way — the company expects to complete the facility during the fourth quarter of 2017 and begin handling aircraft in 2018 — PTI, the Triad and North Carolina are turning their attention to luring a Boeing, Airbus or other large manufacturer to the newly opened 1,000 acres on the other side of I-73. That's why the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina sent Christensen to England. "We got a good deal of looks just by being able to say, 'We're not standing pat,'" Christensen says. "We're adding to the properties that would be available for companies like yours in the future." Christensen admits that such mega-manufacturers are rare. "But when they do come around, we're really well-positioned to compete for them, that's for sure." Piedmont Triad International Airport encompasses 4,000 acres, up from 2,500 in the early 1990s, employs 2,200 people and generates $55 million in state and local taxes, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.

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