Archive for Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ottawa aviation company tentatively agrees to move headquarters to Lawrence

Lawrence Municipal Airport confirmed it reached an agreement to bring in a Hawkeye helicopter. The new vehicle would create five new jobs and require construction of new facilities at the airport.

August 25, 2009


An Ottawa aviation company tentatively has agreed to move its corporate headquarters and at least five high-tech jobs with an average salary of $80,000 to the Lawrence Municipal Airport.

A leader with Hawkeye Helicopter confirmed Tuesday that his firm is close to finalizing a deal that would build a new 15,000-square-foot hangar and office at the airport in North Lawrence.

“Things are really starting to fall into place,” said Jarrod Scott, an owner with the company that currently has offices in Ottawa and has its flight operations based in Osage City.

The 14-year old company uses jet helicopters and small aircraft to conduct aerial inspections of rights-of-way for gas, electric and other utility companies.

The new building would house three jet helicopters and up to seven small airplanes that would be used by the company. The project would involve at least five jobs moving to Lawrence initially, but Scott — who runs the company along with his brother and father — said plans are to expand the work force to eight.

The jobs based in Lawrence would include several pilots, a jet mechanic, and several administrative positions, Scott said.

Local economic development officials lauded the project.

“These are very good jobs,” said Beth Johnson, vice president of economic development for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. “These are the type of jobs that would allow you to work in Lawrence and live in Lawrence.”

The project would be built as part of a joint venture with Lawrence businessman Doug Compton’s First Management Inc. A portion of the new hangar would be used to house First Management’s corporate aircraft, Scott said.

Scott said business for Hawkeye was booming as requirements for inspections on electric transmission lines and rights-of-way had increased recently. Hawkeye has contracts to inspect by air about 1.5 million miles of right-of-way. Major clients include Kansas City Power & Light, Westar Energy, Southern Star Central Pipeline, NuStar Energy, Atmos Energy and the Nebraska Public Power District.

Scott said Lawrence rose to the top of the company’s list of new sites because city leaders seemed committed to making new investments at the airport. The city currently is working on a multimillion dollar project to extend water and sewer lines to the airport. That project was started partly in response to interest by Lawrence-based DAR Corp. to build a new aircraft design facility at the airport. Talks with that company continue to progress.

“What has been very important to us is that there has been a lot of forward thinking about the airport from city officials,” Scott said. “It is kind of rare now to find a city that is willing to embrace an aviation business, but everybody has been very receptive.”

The project — which would be built on airport-owned ground just east and south of the terminal building — still needs to win necessary city approvals.

Johnson said the development has not requested a traditional tax abatement, but said details about a lease rate for the ground and perhaps the use of industrial revenue or recovery bonds still had to be determined.

The company hopes to begin construction in the fall, Scott said.


BigPrune 8 years, 10 months ago

OMG! New business to Lawrence! This can't be! 5 new resident/employees to boot!

The so-called progressives must have been caught with their pants down! Maybe they're vacationing at Camp Gaea, so if they were, the above statement would be true.

ferrislives 8 years, 10 months ago

New business in Lawrence is always good news. I wish there was more of it.

hooligan01 8 years, 10 months ago

As far as the 5 new residents, they will probably just commute from Ottawa to Lawrence.

kthxbi 8 years, 10 months ago

I, for one, am super excited about adding helicopter and jet noises to the patchwork of train and motorcycle noises I enjoy daily! I’m currently working on an art project tentatively titled, “No. Law. Behind the eyes and ears of Lawrence’s bastard child.” I just haven’t rounded up enough mosquitoes to really convey my message.

nekansan 8 years, 10 months ago

Kind of Ironic that 5-10 jobs moving from Ottawa to Lawrence is big news. Too bad 6 years ago it was American Eagle choosing Ottawa over Lawrence to the tune of 500+ jobs.

gccs14r 8 years, 10 months ago

Those ROW surveys should be done by satellite.

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 10 months ago

I like Lawrence but love Lawrence...oh just grow up people. And nekansan is right Ottawa's kickin Lawrence's butt in the job market thing.

peacock 8 years, 10 months ago

big prune-- what is your problem with camp gaea??!!! have you ever even been there???!!!

i have seen you mention it a couple of times with no relation to what is being discussed....

BigPrune 8 years, 10 months ago

You must've been caught with your pants down, no?

I only complain at the obsurdity of Lawrence and the convoluted logic that seems to win over all the elected and City officials. Let's face it, Lawrence is a nut house - that's why it is so screwed up! Ask yourself, is Lawrence better off today after the Progressives micro-managed and restricted this town almost out of business, or before? Last I checked people were leaving and the town was practically broke.

compmd 8 years, 10 months ago

I call shenanigans. The water/sewer infrastructure to support this place doesn't exist. Do the plans that the city has account for a facility of this size in addition to DAR's planned facility? The city hasn't even approved this yet, but with Compton at the helm I have no doubt it will get ramrodded through. After all, Doug has to keep the King Air he was practically given by the university somewhere.

Don't get me wrong, I want to see development at the airport, but given the timeline in the article, it sure seems like something fishy is going on.

gccs14r 8 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, right in the middle of the river. Brilliant.

Thats_messed_up 8 years, 10 months ago

wow 5 jobs! maybe we'll get 6 next year! Yawn

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 10 months ago

I'm waiting for the usual Richard Heckler post about how this is a bad idea and how improving the airport with basic city services is bad for Lawrence.

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