Wichita lands new Cessna plant
Wichita ? Cessna Aircraft announced it has chosen Wichita as the site of its new assembly plant for its Citation Columbus business jet, a day after the Legislature passed a bond package giving the company access to $33 million.
Cessna announced earlier last week that it needed $25 million in cash on top of the incentives already offered by Wichita, Sedgwick County and the state or it would look elsewhere to build the plant.
The Senate passed the bond package Wednesday giving Cessna access to $33 million, and the House followed late Friday. The plant is expected to create 1,000 jobs for the city with an annual payroll of $74 million.
The money Cessna will have access to is part of a $150 million pool to be used as incentives for businesses involved in aviation research, development, engineering, services or manufacturing. The proposal allows aviation companies up to $33 million in bonds per project.
It awaits approval from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who is expected to sign the bill.
Cessna will pay back the bond money it receives through employee withholding taxes.
Cessna chairman and chief executive Jack Pelton said Saturday at the company’s headquarters in west Wichita that the company had decided on Wichita as the plant’s location, making good on its promise to put the plant in Wichita if the Legislature acted.
Cessna will invest $780 million in the Columbus, including roughly $200 million for machinery, equipment and facilities, Pelton said.
Cessna had been courted by a number of other states, which offered large, lucrative incentive packages. Georgia and North Carolina were especially aggressive.
“Clearly we have sent a very strong signal not only to our country but to the world that Kansas will compete to protect our jobs,” said Steve Martens, chairman of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition.
Cessna plans to break ground on the facility at its west Wichita campus toward the end of the year, Pelton said. The plant will house engineering offices and final assembly for the $27 million transcontinental aircraft, Cessna’s largest jet to date.
In addition to the incentive package, there were other factors in Cessna’s decision. Pelton said those include a world-class work force, the new technical training facility at Jabara Airport and the National Institute for Aviation Research.
“Technical training was huge,” Pelton said. The company gave Wichita high marks for training that gives the company a future pipeline of employees.