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Sun, Apr 06, 2008

Cessna Stays Close To Home For Columbus Production

Will Build Kansas Plant For New Large Bizjet

Cessna announced at a Saturday news conference it will build the Citation Columbus plant in Kansas, securing more than 1,000 jobs and a $780 million investment.

"The Kansas Legislature’s quick response to this project has cemented our decision, and Cessna is proud to call Kansas home for the Citation Columbus," said Cessna Chairman, President and CEO Jack J. Pelton. "With their quick action, the House and Senate leadership have shown the world that Kansas will compete for aviation jobs."

With this new project, Cessna will create 1,010 new direct jobs with an annual payroll of $74 million. Research shows that each aviation job creates an additional 2.9 jobs, which means a total of nearly 4,000 new jobs in Kansas as a result of the new plant.

Cessna is investing $780 million into development of the Citation Columbus, Cessna’s newest and largest business jet. The new plant will be a stand-alone facility that will house engineering offices and final assembly of this state-of-the-art $27 million business jet.

This past Wednesday the Kansas Senate voted to provide up to $33 million in bonds to secure the plant through a pool of money designed for aviation projects. Yesterday, the Kansas House also passed the bill sending it to Governor Sebelius for her signature. Governor Sebelius has provided her full support for the project.

"From the beginning, Cessna was clear that they wanted to build this in Kansas," said Kansas House Speaker Melvin Neufeld. "We knew we had tough competition from other states, but we also had the home court advantage. Our message is clear too – we want these companies and these jobs in Kansas."

Kansas Senate President Steve Morris said, "We applaud Cessna’s immediate decision regarding this project, and we appreciate their willingness to provide us the opportunity to respond to them and the means to choose Kansas. Aviation is a cornerstone of our state’s economy, and we are excited about Cessna building their future here and offering our citizens the opportunity to receive the benefit of these high-paying jobs."

A study by the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University reported that for each $1 the state invested, the state would receive $2.14 in return revenues.

"Cessna's announcement today is the exciting first success in our effort to ensure that Kansas keeps our place as the world's aviation leader," said Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt from Independence. "As Cessna and other companies continue to develop a new generation of aircraft, we look forward to more aviation growth in Kansas because of the powerful incentives we have put in place."

Pelton added, "Cessna fully appreciates the partnership and support we have had at the state level and locally. The economic development coalition, the Chamber, the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County all spoke with one voice and were seamless. Their partnership with the Department of Commerce and help in bringing this message to the state was instrumental."

The Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC) worked closely with the State Department of Commerce and local partners to help secure financial incentives for the project, as well as the state response.  Its partners are the City of Wichita, Sedgwick County, 125 business investors through the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce and seven counties in the region.

"On behalf of the community, we thank the legislative leadership, our south-central Kansas delegation and the entire Kansas Legislature for securing these great jobs for Kansans," said Coalition Chairman Steve Martens. "We have an immediate win with immediate jobs, and with this legislation, the Kansas Department of Commerce and Secretary Kerr have new, more flexible ways to compete for product lines and jobs that will secure the future of Kansas."

Cessna had publicly said their preference was to locate in Kansas... especially because of Wichita’s skilled work force, the National Institute for Aviation Research and the new technical training school at Jabara Airport.  However, as Cessna evaluated its options, they determined that in order to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders, Kansas needed to be more slightly more competitive.

"We needed to make this decision quickly and the Kansas Legislature was very proactive in its response," Pelton said.  "This is a perfect example of our partners at the state level understanding and responding quickly to a very competitive global business environment. We thank all for the support we’ve received from Governor Sebelius, Secretary Kerr, House and Senate leadership and our legislative delegation. We look forward to the Governor signing the bill, and we especially look forward to hiring more of the great people of Kansas to be a part of building this exciting new aircraft."

FMI: www.cessna.com

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