Dec. 29--Local and state officials breathed a sigh of relief when Commercial Jet Inc. announced on April 5 that it would take over a facility at the Dothan Regional Airport vacated by Pemco.
Approximately 229 people worked at Pemco World Air Services when it filed for bankruptcy in March 2012. Its last day at the airport was Oct. 31 , and leaders scrambled to find a tenant that could take its place.
Pemco occupied the more than 500,000-square-foot property in one form or another since 1958.
Airport Director Art Morris told the airport authority in November 2012 that there were three potential prospects for the facility, "two of which are in the same type of business as Pemco."
Commercial Jet will more or less do the same type of work Pemco did at the Dothan Regional Airport.
In its lease with the airport authority, the Miami-based aviation maintenance company will pay no rent for its first nine months of tenancy, then pay $35,000 for three months and then pay about $60,000 per month.
Initially the company hired about 60 employees but is projected to employ many more.
According to Sorrells Business College at Troy University, the Commercial Jet project will employ 500 people directly and create 1,500 other local jobs to support it. Over 10 years, Commercial Jet's investment in Dothan will create $740 million in wages, along with $22.95 million in sales and property tax collection, directly and indirectly.
The airport authority approved spending more than $13 million to renovate the facility Commercial Jet will be moving in to. The renovations will be paid for by about $7 million in funding from a state grant and $6 million generated by a bond issue by the city. The Wiregrass Foundation will help pay back about $1.6 million of the bond issue.
The city commission approved sales and property tax breaks for the company. The company will also not pay state sales tax on parts, components and systems used in the conversion, reconfiguration or maintenance of aircraft.
The deal was almost reached a few weeks earlier, but federal sequestration cuts that eliminated funding for air traffic controllers at the airport delayed completion.
City leaders put together a deal to keep the control tower at the airport open with local funding, allowing the deal to go through.
Copyright 2013 - Dothan Eagle, Ala.
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