Colorado Airports Sign On as Aviation-Development Zones

March 15, 2006
The designation gives income-tax credits of up to $2 million per company to aircraft manufacturers within designated zones.

Mar. 14--Eight airports have registered their eagerness to attract aviation manufacturing businesses by signing on as aviation-development zones.

Airport managers hope high-paying aviation manufacturers will add jobs and boost the local economy.

The aviation-development-zone designation was created through a bill signed into state law last year that gives income-tax credits of up to $2 million per company to aircraft manufacturers within designated zones.

The airports that have registered as aviation-development zones are Denver International, Jefferson County, Front Range and Centennial in metro Denver; Colorado Plains Regional in Akron; Greeley-Weld County; Pueblo Memorial; and Archuleta County.

Centennial Airport-based private jet manufacturer Aviation Technology Group considered the aviation-development-zone incentive when it decided to open a facility at Front Range Airport instead of in another state. ATG plans to begin operations at Front Range Airport late this year or early next year.

Office of Economic Development and International Trade director Brian Vogt expects more airports to register over time. The new incentive helps to grow the aviation manufacturing industry in the state, Vogt said.

"We were being outgunned by other states," he said. Now, "we have a better shot" at keeping businesses.

Airport managers name Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah as states that they're competing against.

"The general feeling in Colorado was that living and working in Colorado is enough of a reward in itself for companies to locate here, but that just hasn't been working," said Michael Reisman, manager of the Greeley-Weld County Airport.

"This particular incentive is probably not that significant in the long run," Reisman said. But combined with other incentives, "it makes locating here that much more attractive to a company." Centennial Airport executive director Robert Olislagers expects ATG, Adam Aircraft and an aircraft-conversion company at his airport to qualify for the incentive.

Pilatus Business Aircraft vice president and chief marketing officer Tom Aniello expects to use the incentive at Jefferson County Airport. Pilatus is also considering opening a new facility for completions and painting at the airport.