Video: Business-jet boom

updated 2/13/2007 12:11:42 PM ET 2007-02-13T17:11:42

Honda Aircraft Co. will build its new executive jet in a plant near Greensboro, N.C., as part of a plan that calls for an investment of up to $100 million, officials said Friday.

The project is expected to create 283 jobs with an average salary of $70,000 over the next five years, according to the office of Gov. Mike Easley. The pay is twice the average wage in the area.

Honda already has a corporate office at Piedmont Triad International Airport, where it will make the new six-seat HondaJet. The jet is a lightweight business aircraft designed to be faster and more fuel efficient than similar executive jets.

State incentives for Honda approved Friday morning could total $6.68 million if the company creates the jobs it plans and keeps them for 12 years.

"We all know that North Carolina is home to the first flight and now Honda Aircraft knows it has a place for its new HondaJet to really take off," Easley said in a statement released by his office.

Michimasa Fujino, president and CEO of Honda Aircraft, said in October that Honda had been working 20 years on aircraft research. The company brought its jet project to North Carolina in 2000 to help keep it confidential.

"I wanted to stay away from the big aviation community," he said. "Atlanta and the aviation community was close enough, but Greensboro was also far enough away. Greensboro was a good size, a good combination."

Honda Aircraft's corporate headquarters was formed last year and located at the airport to oversee the production and sales of the aircraft. The company must retain its current 50 employees for 12 years as part of the incentive package.

The state Commerce Department said the project could generate net revenue for the state of $21 million during the life of the grant.

The jet Honda plans to make weighs less than 10,000 pounds and would be used in the air taxi and corporate flying sectors. The company also plans to hire 85 to 100 contract workers for the project.

Local governments have contributed $1.4 million in incentives to help Honda lease 70 acres at the airport, with 30 more acres available for expansion. The first buildings are expected to be finished by the end of 2007.

The HondaJet, which still needs federal approval, would cost about $3.65 million and is expected to be delivered in 2010.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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