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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Brownback to announce Bombardier incentives today

Molly McMillin
The Wichita Eagle

Gov. Sam Brownback will visit Bombardier Learjet today to announce an incentive package that will help the site make room for Bombardier’s newest business jet, the Learjet 85.

The $52.7 million project will mean 450 jobs at the facility.

The state has said its commitment could run between $16 million and $18 million in bonds. City and county officials have already approved their portion of the plan: $1 million each.

Brownback will be joined by Steve Ridolfi, Bombardier business aircraft president; Ralph Acs, vice president and general manager of the Learjet facility; Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer; state legislators; city and county officials; employees and others.

“I’m excited and gratified that the state of Kansas saw the value of this project with Bombardier and they decided to partner with them to help move our economy forward,” said Dave Unruh, chairman of the Sedgwick County board of commissioners.

Bombardier plans to expand the plant, adding a paint facility, a preflight facility and a delivery center.

So far, it has vacated and expanded a production hangar to take on final assembly work on the Learjet 85, a composite, eight-passenger, intercontinental plane.

This will be Bombardier’s second incentives deal with the state in as many years.

In mid-2010, Bombardier announced a new Wichita assembly site for the Learjet 85, which will sustain or create 600 jobs, in exchange for about $27 million in bond financing from the state. The company also agreed not to move any existing operations out of Wichita during the life of the bonds.

Wichita will perform the final assembly, install the interiors, paint the all-composite jets, flight-test them and then deliver them.

The incentives are needed for the deal to make financial sense to Bombardier executives, officials have said.

Bombardier launched the Learjet 85 program in 2007. The plane is expected to enter service in 2013.

The Learjet 85’s large components will be made at the company’s plant in Mexico. Wing components will be built at its Belfast facility in Northern Ireland, which makes the composite wing on the company’s C-Series airliner. Wings will be built using a resin transfer infusion process developed by Bombardier and adapted for the business jet.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com

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