Ogden could land several hundred jobs over the next few years if a Colorado aircraft maker picks Utah over two other states competing for a planned manufacturing facility.

The Utah Board of Business and Economic Development on Friday did its part, approving financial incentives to get Adam Aircraft Industries to build small business jet aircraft here.

If Utah wins, the production work would start by year-end at an existing hangar at Ogden-Hinckley Airport, growing to 400 to 500 jobs in three years, Rick Adam, the company's founder and chief executive officer, told the board.

"I think, real-life, we'll do a lot better than that because we're looking at a lot of demand. But we're trying to underpromise and overdeliver on this stuff. We feel very comfortable with the 400 to 500 range, but we think it will be a lot more than that," he said.

Utah is competing with Kentucky and Texas — the short list after the company considered more than 50 sites. "We have kissed a lot of frogs, and we've only found a couple of princesses in the group," Adam said.

The company needs a good airport and room to construct buildings around it, a large labor pool of mechanics and training for them, and economic incentives, "and the three of them match up here," Adam said.

Adam Aircraft started building planes in 2000. Its piston-twin craft is nearing certification. But the company wants to build a version with

propulsion coming from a pair of jets made by Williams International, which has a manufacturing facility in Ogden.

"So we think we can do production on the jet about a year from now," Adam said. "We're looking for a place to produce those jets, and we've had very, very good dialogue with folks from Utah, and particularly folks from Ogden, about potentially locating our facilities up in the Ogden area."

Those two planes would have many common components, and the company plans to later build a single-turboprop model and a 19-seat regional jet aircraft.

The jet facility would need mechanics, managers and quality-assurance staff, he said. "It turns out that the Salt Lake region, and Ogden and Hill Air Force Base in particular, has a lot of that kind of labor, and there are schools in the region that produce those kinds of folks on a regular basis," Adam said.

Bryce Gibby, project manager for Kemp Development, which has the Ogden property, said the existing site has room for growth. "We're staring out with a 40,000-square-foot building and the capacity to expand that to 80,000 and probably even reserve space for more than that if they decide to move more of their operation here," Gibby said.

The company is investigating incentives from Ogden city and a working capital loan, and its human resources officials are working with the Utah Department of Workforce Services to discuss employee needs and training.

The Adam project would be the first derived from HB316, passed last year, which calls for rebates of some tax revenue that companies generate for the state. Adam's would be over a 15-year period. State officials estimated the rebate could be $10 million net present value, but gross benefits to the state could be about $100 million.

"It's a good methodology in that there's no real financial risk to the state. The project doesn't get money unless the state gets money," said David Harmer, executive director of the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

"Instead of fixing it on a dollar amount, we fixed it on a percentage because we want to create an incentive for Adam Aircraft to look at moving more things into Utah if possible."

Board members were enthusiastic about the possibilities from both the Adam incentive and HB316 in general.

"This is one of the biggest home runs Utah is going to hit in a long time," Dell Loy Hansen said of Adam.

"For $10 million, that really means about $100 million in revenue for the state. . . . (HB)316 was a very, very good idea, and we really need to expand it," Jerry Oldroyd said.

A look at Adam Aircraft industries

Headquarters: Englewood, Colo.

Other facilities: Pueblo, Colo.

Existing facility size: Total 120,000 square feet

Employees: 250

Investment: $70 million, including more than $25 million by founder Rick Adam

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Existing or planned products: $895,000 piston-twin, nearly $2 million twin turbofan and $1.7 million single-turboprop aircraft primarily for corporate customers

Utah state incentive: Rebate of a percentage of tax revenue generated by the company over 15 years, a maximum of 30 percent over the life of the project; company must keep operations in Utah at least 15 years

Utah's competition for new facility: Kentucky


E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com

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