Both the Sherman Economic Development Corp. and the Denison Development Alliance boards approved incentives on Thursday for the expansion of U.S. Aviation Academy at North Texas Regional Airport-Perrin Field. The flight school plans to add 30 new jobs and invest more than $200,000 in new equipment and facility upgrades.
The SEDCO Board unanimously approved an incentive agreement with the Academy that will pay the company $45,000 over the next two years. The agreement is dependent upon U.S. Aviation creating 30 new jobs during that time period at a minimum rate of $20 an hour.
“Their growth has been significantly more than they thought,” SEDCO President Scott Connell said during Thursday’s meeting. “There’s an adjacent hangar space that they need, to start establishing a maintenance operation. Previously they’ve been running them back and forth to Denton for maintenance, but there’s enough critical mass there to begin a maintenance operation that would not only deal with their airplanes but possibly provide services for others — which would make it a great asset to our airport.”
U.S. Aviation currently has 15 aircraft, 20 employees and 54 international students at NTRA. The students are living in apartments in Sherman while they complete the training process which lasts for a minimum of 18 months.
The SEDCO incentive agreement will pay U.S. Aviation $1,500 for each new job created, with a requirement of 15 new jobs by July 1st of this year to receive the first $22,500. The agreement then calls for the company to create five jobs in each subsequent six month period until it reaches 30.
“We’re glad to be able to be a part of that,” Connell said.
The DDA Board also unanimously approved a similar agreement that will provide the company up to $45,000 for the 30 jobs over three years. According to DDA’s agreement, the estimated annual payroll will be $900,000. The incentive is also based on a $1,500-per-job formula.
DDA President Tony Kaai told the Board that the Alliance staff decided to wait until after the flight school was established before coming to the Board with any incentives. U.S. Aviation first came to NTRA last summer. DDA, SEDCO and the Pottsboro Community Development Corp. each lost money in a previous deal with a different flight school that closed at NTRA in 2010 after only a few months of operations.
Kaai said DDA waited this time to give U.S. Aviation time to finalize it’s deals for additional students, which is driving the growth.
“This is a target industry of ours for several years,” Kaai said.
He explained that the high amount of traffic that comes with a flight school will play an important role in getting funding from the Federal Aviation Administration for the operation of the air traffic control tower. In turn, the tower’s operation, Kaai said, is key to attracting aviation-related industry that often comes with high-paying jobs.
The airport, Kaai said, “is an economic engine that has the potential to change the demographics of this county.”