Dream of high-paying jobs in Northland crashes and burns

The vision of high-paying jobs building airplanes was too tantalizing for public officials and now they’re paying the price.

Alan Klapmeier started Kestrel Aircraft after a split with his brother and his former company, Cirrus.

Wisconsin gave his company $4 million on the promise he’d build an aircraft factory in Superior, Wis., employing over 600 people. Wisconsin “won” Klapmeier’s competition with Maine in bidding with public financing for his business.

In 11 months, Klapmeier hasn’t paid anything on the loan and there’s no indication the factory will ever happen so now Wisconsin is taking legal action, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

These days, aircraft manufacturing is a bad investment, despite the success of Cirrus over the years.

People aren’t learning to fly much anymore, the economy isn’t what it once was and there’s too much competition in business aircraft sector for a new company to make it.

The News Tribune also reports a subsidiary of ONE Aviation — Klapmeier’s Kestrel is now part of the corporation — hasn’t used a $1.5 million loan from the IRRRB and a hangar hasn’t been used that the Grand Rapids Economic Development Authority bought for $293,000 with the notion that it would be used to build parts for a jet, employing 20 people.

How many jobs have been created with the all of the financing? None.

“We’re being cautious. But we’re still hopeful,” IRRRB Commissioner Mark Phillips told the News Tribune. “The latest we’ve heard is that they’re still trying to get their financing organized. We aren’t out anything to let them have more time.”

Neither were authorities in Maine, who gave Kestrel more time to come up with rent money for its hangar workship in Brunswick after the company didn’t pay its $15,000-a-month rent for a year.

Kestrel had promised there’d be hundreds of jobs there. It employed about a dozen.

Last week, Kestrel was evicted.

Archive: Iron Range board ready to bet on another airplane company (NewsCut)