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County, city suing aircraft supplier Swift-Cor over economic development funds

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, April 30, 2014, at 8:07 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, April 30, 2014, at 11:07 p.m.

Sedgwick County and the city of Wichita are suing an aircraft supplier for the return of some economic development money after the company didn’t hire as many people as promised.

The two government entities are suing Swift-Cor, based in Gardena, Calif., according to its website. Each is seeking $18,000.

Swift-Cor signed an agreement with the two government groups in 2006 to hire 200 workers over five years in exchange for $60,000 in loans that would be forgiven if the job total was achieved.

The Swift-Cor plant in Wichita, 2232 S. Custer, was sold to Impresa Aerospace in 2012, which has no responsibility for the debt, said City Attorney Gary Rebenstorf.

According to the city’s lawyers, Swift-Cor met its hiring requirements in its first two years but didn’t hit the agreed-upon mark in the third, fourth and fifth years of the agreement.

A number of companies have missed their agreed-upon hiring targets during the recession, and when those companies explained their troubles, the two government groups have generally been pretty forgiving.

Rebenstorf and Deputy City Attorney Brian McLeod said that the lawsuit against Swift-Cor doesn’t reflect a new direction. It’s more a matter of Swift-Cor not responding to the city’s request for an explanation. The city sent a letter demanding repayment in 2012 and got no response, McLeod said.

McLeod said the sale of the plant didn’t change anything.

“It was their obvious tactic back then to avoid repaying the loans,” he said.

As to why the suit was filed now, McLeod said it was just a matter of finding the time.

Repeated calls to the main number listed on the Swift-Cor website got only a busy signal Wednesday afternoon.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danvoorhis.

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