Carroll to lobby Air Force for Embraer jobs

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll said Monday she intends to head to Washington, D.C., this weekend and next week and during her trip will let the U.S. Air Force know that Jacksonville is ready to welcome Embraer.

The Air Force set aside the $355 million contract that would have allowed Embraer to build the A-29 Super Tucano warplane and create 50 local jobs.

Carroll said the Air Force will re-open bidding on the contract and needs to know of Jacksonville’s interest.

“We want this manufacturing to come here,” she said.

She said Kansas has been “very vocal” and Florida needs to be the same.

Lane Wright, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott, said Carroll was traveling to Washington, D.C., for a National Lieutenant Governors Association meeting. He said that because defense issues are among her main focuses that she will stop by the Pentagon and other areas of national affairs.

“Embraer will be a part of it,” he said, but is not the primary reason for her trip to the capital.

Embraer was planning to partner with Sierra Nevada Corp., which was awarded the U.S. Department of Defense contract in December after its main competitor, Wichita, Kan.-based Hawker Beechcraft, was excluded in a “pre-award exclusion.”

Hawker Beechcraft filed suit against the U.S. government Dec. 27 and the Air Force put a “stop-work” order to Sierra Nevada on Jan. 4. The Air Force then set aside the contract that would have allowed Embraer to build the warplane in Jacksonville.

The decision re-opens contract bidding for the light attack aircraft.

Sierra Nevada is based in Sparks, Nev., near Reno. Embraer is based in Brazil.

Embraer was planning to build the planes at a 40,000-square-foot hangar at Jacksonville International Airport. Jacksonville City Council approved incentives for the project, which promised an average salary of $49,500, plus benefits. Council approved a Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund of $150,000 for Embraer contingent upon the contract.

Under the QTI, the City would refund $30,000 and the state would be responsible for $120,000.

Embraer was expected to generate an annual payroll of about $2.5 million and invest $1.8 million in assembly equipment, according to Joe Whitaker, Jacksonville Economic Development Commission targeted industries coordinator, in a presentation to the Council Finance Committee., 356-2466



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