MONTROSE – The natives are getting restless. But, said Montrose Economic Development Corporation President and Executive Director Sandy Head, the deal to bring aircraft manufacturer Extra Aircraft to Montrose is still very much in the works.
A series of miscommunications, meetings that ended in executive session rather than illumination, and a KJCT television report that made it seem as if the deal might be off, have all led to questions on whether the grand announcement of July 23 welcoming Extra, and its 200 jobs, to Montrose might have been premature.
“We’re still negotiating,” Head told The Watch this week.
“We’re getting closer,” said County Commissioner David White in an email.
“It’s a natural process,” said Commissioner Ron Henderson.
“There’s no new news,” said Project Manager for the county, Stephanie Barnett. “They’re still working together to make this work. What’s really important is that the county is sticking to what is legal.”
The KJCT story on Sept. 8 led some to believe that the county and MEDC had crossed wires on just what incentives could legally be offered to Extra. County Manager Jesse Smith made it clear the county could not offer cash as part of an incentive deal. “We can offer a rebate on property taxes of 50 percent for five years,” he told the television station. “We can provide the land on the airport. We can build them a facility and lease it back to them.”
What is actually being discussed is under wraps, for now. MEDC’s executive board, along with officials from the city and county, Region 10, and the State Office of Economic Development and International Trade, have been meeting with Extra behind closed doors.
“It requires confidentiality,” said Head. “Not secrecy. Confidentiality. Not many people would find it easy to open up your entire financial life to examination. Like an elk opened up in the field.”
Complicating matters further, according to Head, was the fact that Extra Aircraft’s President Ken Keith “was in Germany for a couple of weeks. Everything was put on hold. But he’s back. And this is his full focus, as it is mine. We want to get this done the best way possible.”
A due diligence report by Boyd Group International of Evergreen, Colo., commissioned by the county, has yet to be presented, adding to the uncertainty.
“I don’t know if the Boyd report is finished or not,” said the county’s Barnett. “I do know that the county wants to hold a public meeting, a definitive meeting, when an announcement can be made.” A phone inquiry to Boyd Group for this story was not returned.