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Aircraft Parts Manufacturing Facility to Open in Grand Rapids

Baihly Warfield
October 17, 2016 10:41 PM

An aircraft parts manufacturing facility will be making a new home in Grand Rapids. The IRRRB approved two loans needed for ACC Manufacturing to move a production operation into an empty hangar at the Grand Rapids Airport, which will create 20 new jobs. 

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ACC Manufacturing will make foam "masters" for its parent company, One Aviation, which produces Eclipse two-engine jets. 

The first loan was $1.5 million directly to ACC, which CEO Alan Klapmeier says is "to buy equipment that will be used to manufacture the tools and some of the components necessary to build these parts for Eclipse."

The second was $293,000 to the Grand Rapids Economic Development Authority so it could buy the 7,000-square foot hangar, which is currently privately owned. GREDA will then lease the space to ACC Manufacturing. 

"Currently, all of those parts are built someplace else, mostly out of the country," Klapmeier. "And our business philosophy is that we should be building them ourselves. It's better business, better control, better financially for the company."

The facility will create 20 new jobs for Grand Rapids, which is part of what the Grand Rapids Economic Development Authority found attractive. 

The composite parts that would be created on the Range are called foam "masters." They help make molds which will eventually turn into the finished parts for Eclipse 

"They provide opportunities for employment, good, skilled, well-paying jobs. They add diversity to our economy," Rob Mattei with GREDA said. "Twenty jobs, we don't take for granted."

One Aviation was formed in April 2015 when Klapmeier's Kestrel Aircraft merged with Eclipse. Kestrel has offices in Superior, and currently employs about 25 people. The Kestrel turboprop is not in production right now, and Klapmeier said Eclipse is One Aviation's priority.

One board member, state Rep. Jason Metsa, brought up the Superior operation and asked for clarification. Klapmeier said that venture has no bearing on the Grand Rapids plant. 

"At this point, this doesn't effect Kestrel. These are parts for Eclipse," Klapmeier said. 

Minnesota Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) expressed strong support for the project during the meeting. 

"I want you to feel assured that if this goes to the next level, and we're talking about manufacturing something larger, the state of Minnesota will put an ore in the water to make sure it's here," Bakk said. "I will see to it."

Mattei said Grand Rapids and ACC Manufacturing were in talks for awhile. 

"We're very comfortable with this business and really excited about the potential for them to grow in our community," Mattei said. 

Klapmeier said this 20-person facility is purposely designed on a limited scope to avoid having the same problems they've experienced in the past. 

"I would expect that this proposal, which is currently for 20 jobs, would not be the end of what we did," Klapmeier said. 

Klapmeier said ACC is beginning to hire and move equipment to Grand Rapids immediately, and the facility should be largely complete in about eight months. 


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Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2016 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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