Wichita City Council approves loans for Apex, MoJack

The Wichita City Council on Tuesday approved forgivable loans totaling $255,000 as economic incentives to two Wichita businesses.

Apex Engineering International will receive $220,000, and MoJack Distributors will get $35,000. Both companies are seeking the same amounts in forgivable loans from Sedgwick County.

Apex, a manufacturer of aircraft parts and assemblies, is expanding its operations and will add 139 employees over the next five years at an average annual wage of $46,096, according to a city staff report.

Apex has 180 workers in Wichita.

Apex is making a total capital investment of $8 million to buy and renovate the former Weckworth Manufacturing plant at 1818 W. Second St. The expansion will allow the company to add 100,000 square feet of production and warehouse space. It will also add 10,000 square feet of office space after relocating its corporate headquarters from 1234 N. Wellington Place to the Second Street site.

In 2009, Apex approached the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition for assistance in seeking incentives, city staff said. At the same time, the company was also holding discussions with officials from Ada, Okla., and Jacksonville, Fla. Apex has a satellite operation in Ada.

"The rest of America is doing what it can to get these companies," Mayor Carl Brewer said. "They're saying, 'Give us a chance.' If we don't provide (these incentives), others will. We have to be in the game."

As part of the overall package, Apex would receive an incentive package from the state totaling nearly $1.3 million.

MoJack, which manufactures a power lift for riding lawn mowers, is investing $3.6 million to expand and move into a new space at 3535 N. Rock Road, which formerly was occupied by Linen N' Things. The company was at 3971 N. Woodland to

Mojack will use the forgivable loan from the city to offset equipment costs. As a condition of the loan, MoJack has agreed to increase its employment in Wichita by 10 jobs to 63 positions over the next five years, the city said. The average salary would be $39,623.

In June 2007, MoJack transferred fabrication operations to China, but it kept its final assembly and distribution of the product in Wichita.