Piper Aircraft and Florida's Indian River County have agreed to amend an economic development incentive contract to retain the company's headquarters and manufacturing operations in Vero Beach. This follows a similar renegotiated agreement reached earlier this month between the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Piper.
Because the company has agreed to remain in Indian River County and has exceeded by about $30 million its capital and research and development investment obligations under the agreement, the county will allow Piper to retain half of $4 million in county economic development incentives already awarded to the company. Piper will be permitted to keep the remaining $2 million in previously awarded incentives, if it meets certain future employment obligations. "Piper is grateful that the leaders of Indian River County have acknowledged the company's contributions to the local economy and at the same time recognized the challenging economic environment of the past few years," said Piper President and CEO Simon Caldecott. "Piper is emerging from the global recession as a stronger company. Even during the depth of the recent recession Piper remained the largest manufacturing exporter in Indian River County."
The amendment with Indian River County calls for Piper to retain a specified number of 600 full-time equivalent positions, with an annual average salary of at least $46,500 for the four-year period. For each year the company meets the minimum employment threshold, its obligation to repay the $2 million already received will be reduced by 25 percent. If Piper fails to meet the minimum employment threshold and other facility requirements in any year, then it must repay the county $500,000 plus interest.
Currently Piper is maintaining more than 650 full-time equivalent positions generating more than $45 million in annual payroll. Under the agreement Indian River County can reclaim $8 million in committed funds earmarked for Piper in the future. Piper requested that the state and county renegotiate its economic development incentive package in light of the unusual market realities for new aircraft sales and employment in the future. The recent amendment is a result of those negotiations.
Since the original agreement and despite serious global economic challenges, Piper invested more than $100 million in the Vero Beach operation in addition to annual payroll and Florida supplier purchases. Piper's investment in the community, through product development costs and capital expenditures, has directly returned more than $9 for every $1 invested by the state and local governments in economic development incentives for the company and its employees.