Dassault's Growth Reflects Aviation Industry Potential

by John Henry  on Monday, Aug. 27, 2007 12:00 am  

Building permits for two of the Dassault projects have already been let by Kinco Inc. of Little Rock. One was for $2.2 million to construct a hangar, and the other was for $13.3 million to construct an "aircraft facility."

Like some fine French wines, Dassault Falcon Jet Corp. - or at least its presence in Arkansas - continues to get better with age.

The maker of business jets has been in Little Rock for 32 years, and by the end of next year its facilities will be more than 13 times larger than when it all began in 1975.

Dassault's expansion reflects the potential of the aerospace industry to create jobs in Arkansas. Aviation is Arkansas' single biggest manufacturing export commodity.

And there's little doubt that Gov. Mike Beebe and Maria Haley, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, see the potential of the aerospace industry in the state. It's something the Little Rock Airport Commission has been touting for years.

Bob East, chairman and CEO of East-Harding Inc. and a member of the airport commission, said the aerospace industry is huge.

"There's a tremendous demand for private and corporate jets," he said, one that's being spurred by a healthy economy, time-saving convenience and the unreliability of the commercial airlines.

"Aerospace has a base here and it is expanding," East said. "We must keep up with it. It's a huge opportunity for the state."

A symbol of that opportunity is Dassault Falcon Jet, which employs some 2,000 workers at its completion and service centers at Adams Field with an annual average salary of $40,000. Dassault Falcon is part of Dassault Aviation, based in Paris.

Recent expansion announcements include a $20 million project that will add 116,000 SF of production, design and warehouse space to the completion center, and earlier this month, the company said it would double the space for its service center in a $10 million project.

The completion center project is expected to add 200 jobs over the next two years, the company said, while the service center project will add 100 jobs over the next three years.

Payroll at the centers is expected to be about $200 million once the new employees are hired.

When the projects are completed, Dassault's physical plant will be more than 820,000 SF, said Andrew Ponzoni, manager of public relations and communications.

Building permits for two of the Dassault projects have already been let by Kinco Inc. of Little Rock. One was for $2.2 million to construct a hangar, and the other was for $13.3 million to construct an "aircraft facility."

 

 

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