FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Renegade Light Sport, a light sport aircraft manufacturer, will hire 75 and commit $1.7 million in capital improvements in Fort Pierce, the company announced Monday.
Renegade now has a 70,000 square foot facility at the St. Lucie County International Airport, where the company will build small two-passenger airplanes and train pilots of such craft. The company previously had a facility in Lee’s Summit, Mo.
“It’s an absolutely tremendous facility,” said Philip Wyatt, the company’s sales, marketing and public relations director.
The average wage for the jobs has not been determined, Wyatt said, but the jobs must be at or greater than the county’s average wage of $15.38 per hour, or $32,000 per year, and the people must be hired within three years.
St. Lucie County has offered a job growth incentive grant and tax abatement for the project as part of a letter of intent, but the Board of County Commissioners has yet to formally approve the incentives, Business and Strategic Incentives Manager Michael Brillhart said.
The tax abatement is expected to save the company about $57,104 based on current rates, while the job growth incentive grant is worth up to $146,250 over five years.
“Given all the choices that an employer like Renegade has, this is a vote of confidence in St. Lucie County as a good place to grow business,” St. Lucie County Administrator Faye Outlaw said in a statement released through the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie.
The local workforce was a major consideration for the company’s relocation, Wyatt said.
“The skilled fiberglass workers, the avionics guys, the electronics guys, they’re here already,” Wyatt said.
Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County President Larry Pelton said the company does lots of business overseas and will bring money into the community.
The county has long sought tenants for its airport, and the addition should help the county obtain other tenants, Pelton said.
“I think it enhances the attractiveness of the airport,” Pelton said. “For one thing, this company will be selling internationally, so it could certainly increase the activity at the airport.
“It just will be a benefit to the airport and get more exposure for the airport as well.”
Pelton said the Economic Development Council is working on several projects that involve manufacturing companies.
“That bodes very well for Fort Pierce because Fort Pierce has always traditionally been a location for manufacturing,” Pelton said. “The workforce has the skill set. There will be some training involved, but the workforce in the Fort Pierce area has skill sets in manufacturing, so it’s all attractive. It all works very well for the city and the county to bring in more manufacturing.”
The company is taking part in a Wounded Warrior Project program to help injured veterans learn how to fly the small aircraft, Wyatt said.
Pelton said the aircraft are exciting to see, and the new manufacturing will create an interesting product for the area. He also said the company is interested in working with Indian River State College on certain programs.
“It’s just a quality aircraft, and they are very interested in this being a very long-term relationship,” Pelton said.
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