LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — Colorado manufacturer Excel-Jet Ltd. says it will come to Lake Charles if it gets $1 million and a hangar built at Chennault International Airport.
The Monument, Colo., company is developing a lighter, stronger executive jet, according to its Web site.
Rob Pruitt, the airport's executive director, said Excel-Jet would hire about 300 people, with salaries averaging $48,000.
''They love it here and want to get here as soon as possible,'' Pruitt told the city council Tuesday. ''Canada is the only other location they looked at. They really like Chennault.''
He said the company has sent a letter of intent to move their operation to the airport and asked the city and parish to offer $500,000 each.
The former Air Force base's long runway, sea-level location and ''wide-open spaces for testing'' attracted Excel-Jet, Pruitt said.
The Sport-Jet is billed by the manufacturer as ''the most affordable, and insurable, jet aircraft ever designed.'' Its ''proof-of-concept'' plane was in its second month of testing when it crashed in June 2006. The most recent news release on Sport-Jet's Web site, from July 18, 2006, said wake turbulence caused the crash and both men on board — the pilot and mechanic — were unhurt.
If the city and parish put money into the incentive plan, it could be joined with $10 million in state bonds and additional money from the state's economic development office.
''They're going to be very well-funded after the first allotment of money,'' Pruitt said.
Excel-Jet also wants a hangar built.
Mayor Randy Roach said money could come from $2 million for economic development in a bond proposal or from the general fund's capital improvements fund.
Excel-Jet is poised to start work in Lake Charles within 30 days, Pruitt said.