Piedmont Aviation to expand at Smith Reynolds Airport

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.  – An aircraft maintenance and repair company with a Piedmont Aviation lineage is requesting up to $52,500 in local economic incentives to help it move into a larger facility at Smith Reynolds Airport.


Piedmont Propulsion Systems LLC wants to take over a 66,772-square-foot space at 4400-4401 Lansing Drive, according to a legal notice filed Thursday by the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.


Piedmont Propulsion is based at 3817 N. Liberty St., also on the airport campus. The company was founded in the late 1940s by Tom Davis as part of the original Piedmont Aviation Inc., serving as its propeller shop.


The company specializes in servicing aircraft for regional airlines, corporations, the military and general aviation.


Sammy Oakley, general manager of Piedmont Propulsion, declined to comment Thursday on the expansion project. Piedmont Propulsion is one of three primary subsidiaries owned by First Aviation Services Inc. of Westport, Conn.


In exchange for the performance-based incentives, the company said it would expand by 25 full-time jobs over five years to a local workforce of 60, paying an average wage of $15 an hour for the new jobs. It also pledged to spend $2 million on new equipment.


A public hearing before the Winston-Salem City Council has not been announced. The council is being asked to approve up to $31,500 in incentives over five years. It also is considering a request for a $100,000 low-interest loan, said Derwick Paige, assistant city manager for economic development.


The commissioners will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Dec. 19 in its meeting room in the county government center, 201 N. Chestnut St. The commissioners are being asked to approve up to $21,000 in incentives over five years from the county's general fund. Ed Jones, the deputy county manager, said the county is not considering a loan.


Airport Director Mark Davidson and Jones said Smith Reynolds is facing competition from other local building sites, as well as out-of-state sites, for the project. Paige said the N.C. Commerce Department has been contacted about providing incentives because Piedmont could move its entire operation out of the state.


The airport recently regained the Lansing Drive space from US Airways Group, Inc., which had not had operations there since 2005, but had maintained a lease.


"Piedmont Propulsion plans to buy a lot of equipment for their expansion, so they need extra space," Davidson said.