Update: Dassault Falcon Jet in Little Rock Plans $60M Expansion

by Lance Turner and Luke Jones  on Wednesday, May. 29, 2013 11:00 am  

To keep the operation in Little Rock, AEDC said it committed three types of state incentives to the expansion:

  • the "create rebate," a cash rebate equal of 3.9 percent of the retained jobs and any new payroll for 10 years; 
  • sales tax refunds on building materials, taxable machinery and equipment associated with the expansion project;
  • and $2 million from the Governor's Quick Action Closing Fund to go toward the cabinet and upholstery shop renovations and new building construction.

According to Shane Carter, the airport's director of public policy and governmental affairs, the airport provided an incentive package totaling $43 million, "primarily as rent credits to be used over the next 40 years."

38 Years in Little Rock

Dassault Falcon Jet is part of Dassault Aviation of Paris, France. The company has been in Little Rock since 1975, when it bought Little Rock Airmotive. At the time, its facilities were limited to a 61,500-SF hangar and office that had been used as a completion center by FedEx founder Fred Smith, who launched his overnight delivery service in the early 1970s.

In April 2012, Arkansas Business reported employment of 1,700 at Dassault, making it No. 1 among the state's aerospace firms. The company has three other facilites in the U.S. in Teterboro, N.J.; Wilmington, Del.; and Reno, Nev.

Like its peers, the company has seen its share of ups and downs in the last decade.

In 2006 and 2007, it announced $30 million in expansions at its completion center at Adams Field, saying it would hire an additional 300 workers, including aircraft maintenance technicians and craftsmen, to meet its increased production demand.

Included in the project was a new 66,500-SF paint facility, which the company opened in 2008. The new paint facility brought the Dassault operation's Adams Field footprint to more than 900,000 SF.

But the economic collapse curtailed demand for private jets. In June 2009, the layoffs began, with Dassault cutting 111 workers in Little Rock. And in December 2009, it laid off 205 more. By April 2010, the company had about 1,760 workers, down from its high of about 2,200 in 2009.

At the same time, Hawker Beechcraft of Witchita, Kan., which operated another aircraft completions center at Adams Field, was cutting its workforce.

After warning in fall 2008 that orders were drying up due to the economy, Hawker begain cutting workers companywide. By 2012, it had declared bankruptcy, announced plans to scuttle its business jet business and all but closed its Little Rock plant.



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