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bobliocatt

Jet manufacturing plant coming to Jacksonville

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Embraer will build manufacturing plant at Cecil

23 January 2004

By GREGORY RICHARDS

The Times-Union

The Jacksonville Airport Authority and Embraer, the Brazilian jet maker, said today they have completed a deal to build a jet manufacturing facility at Cecil Commerce Center on the Westside.

Construction on the approximately 71,000-square-foot facility will begin in July or August, at the earliest, and take a year to 16 months to complete, said JAA Executive Director John Clark. Clark said the facility will anchor Cecil Commerce Center on the Westside, hopefully drawing other aerospace businesses. The deal was finalized Jan. 14.

The airport authority will contribute $6.5 million towards the facility's construction and will use a $1.5 million federal grant to build an aircraft taxiway and ramp. The Jacksonville Economic Development Commission previously agreed to a $1.5 million training and start-up grant for Embraer.

Embraer is bound by the contract to spend at least $6.5 million equipping the facility with tools and gear, Clark said. But the aircraft company will not pay rent for either the facility or the ground it rests upon for the first 10 years of the 30-year contract. After that, Embraer will pay only ground rent.

Embraer, along with partners Lockheed Martin and Harris Corp., intend to use the facility to build the Army's Aerial Common Sensor program, the Army's $1 billion, next generation intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system. The team of Savannah, Ga.-based Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. are also competing for the Army contract. Proposals from the two teams are due in February, and the selection is expected in either April or May, according to an Army spokesman.

If Embraer loses the contract, Clark said he is confident that the hangar will easily be rented to another company.

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A little background info on the site:

For those who don't know, Cecil Commerce Center is a 17,000 acre former Naval Air Base, decommissioned in 1993 and finally closed in 1999. Its now being transformed into a huge manufacturing center. Because its hangers & 4 - 12,000+ ft long runways were left in place, it has become a popular site for Aerospace Companies. Other aircraft related companies & organizations already operating at Cecil include, Boeing, LSI, Northrop Grumman, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Florida Air National Guard. Although its on 71,000sf, the Embraer facility will create about 200 high paying jobs.

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Good luck to Jax. I've got to say I'm going to be partial to Savannah getting a piece of the action. And not just because I live in GA. Savannah is one city I would love to see break out in the next decade as a booming city.

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Yeah, Savannah beat Jax out for that ill-fated Chrysler van assembly plant, so who knows. I guess we will be seeing these two cities compete for a lot of projects in the future, considering they're both coastal port cities, only 2 hours apart from each other.

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