In an announcement yesterday, Bell has announced that the work for the cabin sub-assembly for the 525 Relentless will relocate from its planned location in Amarillo to the new plant being built at Lafayette, Louisiana. At the same time they announced the 505 JetRanger X line will move to Mirabel in Canada.
At the start of September 2015, Bell held an official opening ceremony for the plant at Lafayette, and Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Secretary Steven Grissom and other state, regional and local officials joined Bell president and CEO, John Garrison, to commemorate the occasion. The 82,300-square-foot, $26.3 million hangar facility is built on a 14.5-acre site and Bell are leasing the facility from the Lafayette Regional Airport. The project is funded by the State of Louisiana and the company plans to invest $11.4 million in equipment and tooling. Bell Helicopter is ramping up the hiring process for the facility, and assembly operations are expected to start early this year with deliveries to follow in 2016 after certification of the aircraft. The facility is expected to create 115 new jobs in Lafayette.
Additionally, back in December 2013, Bell recorded that the State of Louisiana had offered a competitive incentive package that includes performance-based grants of $4.0 million for lease support, $3.8 million for infrastructure and equipment, and $0.2 million to reimburse relocation expenses. A total of $8 Million. Louisiana also will provide the comprehensive solutions of LED FastStart® – the state workforce development program. These are, of course, additional to the fact that the state is funding the construction of the facility and Bell are only leasing it – a massive cash-flow boost for the manufacturer.
With that background, the decision to move production of the 505 JetRanger X to Mirabel left a gap which had to be filled, or the subsidies would be lost and they would still likely have to fulfill the financial commitments they made with the Development Authority.
To reaffirm the company’s commitment to Louisiana, Bell even went as far as publishing a video on YouTube (see below) which promotes living and relocating to Lafayette – including the line “With a cost of living index lower than the national average, your money will buy more” They don’t say where the video comes from, and it lacks any branding, least of all from Bell itself despite being on their YouTube channel. One wonders how easy they are finding recruitment there to have the need to publish this.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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