What’s in Vacaville that attracted a leading LA-based aircraft manufacturer to move its entire operations to Northern California?
Any city would welcome a relocating aircraft manufacturer to their fold considering the employment opportunities it will bring to the city’s residents. The volume of workers needed for such a labor-intensive manufacturing company may be more than some cities can accommodate that it might overflow into the neighboring towns and cities. But what can a city offer to an aircraft manufacturer enough to make them want to relocate?
A Nationwide Search Led To Vacaville City
An LA-based manufacturer, ICON Aircraft has recently made its final announcement, they are moving to Vacaville City by 2015. And by moving, it means all operational functions – sales, service, training, manufacturing, and corporate headquarters into the 140,000 square-foot facility which is near the Nut Tree Airport. The decision came after a nationwide search of relocation sites.
Regional Financial Impact
According to ICON’s research, the financial impact of said relocation to the region will be more than $350 million annually. This is aside from the hundreds to thousands of advanced –manufacturing-related jobs that will be made available once the manufacturing plant becomes operational. In addition, several affiliate businesses will benefit from this relocation namely suppliers and manufacturers of aircraft construction materials such as blind rivets, titanium sheets, aircraft engines, and their smaller parts, etc.
Aircraft Staying In California
The selection of Vacaville as the relocation site was an impressive demonstration of local, regional, and state cooperation which made it possible for the aircraft manufacturer to stay in California. The manufacturer’s founder and CEO, Kirk Hawkins lauded the “proactive and tireless” efforts of the collaborative efforts of the officials of the city of Vacaville, the Nut Tree Airport, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, and Solano County.
What Vacaville Offers
Vacaville has a lot to offer to the aircraft manufacturer, including:
- It is home to military veterans
- It is close to Travis Air Force Base
- It is close to the Nut Tree Airport where the planes of many recreational pilots are stationed
- It is close to numerous waterways including Lake Berryessa
- It is located between the Bay Area and Sacramento, two major markets, providing recreational fliers an opportunity to tour San Francisco to the Napa Country to Lake Tahoe and other world-class destinations
- It is business-friendly
- It has excellent facilities
- It has year-round flying weather
The Prospects of A5 Aircraft
Hawkins is himself a former Air Force F-16 pilot and is determined to build the A5 aircraft – a luxury recreational power vehicle. The nearby waterways are ideal for the gas-powered aircraft which can take off and land on traditional runways and on water. The aircraft company is optimistic about the opportunities of attracting clientele from all over the world, and this could make the city a global destination.
Initial Production of A5
Applauded with the relocation announcement is the model of the A5 prototype – the twin-seat, light sport amphibious aircraft that has generated so much excitement with more than 1,000 pre-orders despite the fact that it’s not on the market yet. Completion and delivery of the prototype model of A5 is expected by early 2015. For the initial production of the customer aircraft, the company already guarantees the employment of 150 to 500 workers with the number going higher as output increases.
Benefits For Vacaville City
On its part, the city of Vacaville approved an agreement with the aircraft manufacturer that stipulates conditions such as sales tax rebates and transient occupancy tax sharing. The city is also bound to benefit in terms of tourism, as clientele of the A5 is required to undergo a mandatory two-week flight training process prior to taking possession of the A5 aircraft.
Can other cities beat Vacaville’s offer?