Duluth-based Cirrus Aircraft is one of the state’s success stories, especially considering its location. But when it came time for the aircraft manufacturer to build a new $15 million facility, the company went to Tennessee.
The customer center, which will have more than 170 jobs, means customers will no longer have to travel to Minnesota to pick up their new planes and receive flight training in them.
Earlier this year, the company said the weather in Minnesota made it difficult for customers to commit the time necessary for training. But, according to WATE TV, Tennessee changed its tax laws to attract the Duluth company.
A legislative change was also part of the deal. Tennessee’s tax law put a time limit on how long out of state customers could be in Tennessee to buy a plane before being taxed on it. That limit was something cirrus aircraft wanted changed.
“It was a real key issue and it was to be a fly away state. That means that it’s very difficult if you’re not that. There would be a tax complication for a customer; they’d have a tax burden and we didn’t want that. Our customers didn’t want that,” said Cirrus Aircraft Executive Vice President Todd Simmons.
Senator Doug Overby sponsored a bill to change the time limit, so that customers could spend more time in Tennessee before the tax set in.
“The training for the Cirrus aircraft is so intense that we needed to expand that from two weeks to 30 days.Thee folks that come here to get training on these highly specialized aircraft need more than 2 weeks for the training,” said Senator Overby.
Research and development as well as manufacturing operations for Cirrus Aircraft will remain in Duluth, the company said in its news release.
Cirrus has been seeking government assistance to expand in Duluth. Cirrus CEO Dale Klapmeier issued a not-terribly-veiled threat to move some production out of Minnesota.
Cirrus employs about 600 people in Duluth.