GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – The Honda Aircraft Company will build its larger private jet in Greensboro, adding another 180 jobs to the burgeoning aerospace sector at Piedmont Triad International Airport.
The Economic Investment Committee of the North Carolina Department of Commerce voted during its semimonthly meeting Tuesday morning to award approximately $3.9 million in incentives toward the company’s plans for a manufacturing site for HondaJet 2600, and the company later confirmed its decision.
WGHP last week had identified HondaJet as the object of incentive plans being reviewed by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and the Greensboro City Council, and the EIC acted on plans by Honda to invest $55.7 million and create about 280 jobs at an average annual wage of $88,761.
“We are thrilled that North Carolina will be home to the new Honda light jet that represents the next chapter of our skyward mobility,” Honda Aircraft President and CEO Hideto Yamasaki, President said in a statement released by the governor’s office. “The state of North Carolina provides a rich talent pool and tremendous support from our local community and having our facilities located right next to the Piedmont Triad International Airport is an ideal location to develop and produce our new light jet.”
Honda Aircraft, which builds its small-scale personal jets at PTI, had announced in mid-June plans to add a mid-sized jet, which could carry up to 11 passengers with a single pilot and fly longer distances, including being the first private jet capable of nonstop transcontinental flight. The “2600” in its name refers to the miles it can cover.
Greensboro City Council on Tuesday night approved a resolution that specifies incentives of $1,500 per job if the company creates 288 jobs by 2027. That document also specifies that the jobs would not pay less than $15 per hour and would have an average annual wage of $88,761, and it includes other incentives. On Thursday, the Board of Commissioners will have a hearing about $712,820 it has identified for the project. Job numbers can vary in announcements because of how they count toward grant funding.
“HondaJet’s creation of nearly 300 good-paying jobs is yet another example of why CNBC named North Carolina as the number one state in the country to do business for the second year in a row,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement released by his office. “This decision shows our state’s commitment to developing a skilled workforce, not only in the key industry of aerospace with a flagship brand like HondaJet, but in the entire advanced manufacturing arena.”
Department of Commerce Economists say that by 2035 the project will add $3.9 billion to the state’s gross domestic product and generate $86 million in new state revenue. Greensboro beat out Albertville, Alabama, which had offered $9.2 million in incentives, the EIC was told.
“A company of HondaJet’s stature, they really could have gone anywhere,” Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan told WGHP. “Believe me, there were other states that wanted them. But the fact that they chose to stay here says a lot about our workforce and our business climate.”
Excitement about announcement
State Sen. Michael Garrett (D-Guilford), Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), a candidate for commissioner of Labor in 2024, and Rep. John Faircloth (R-Guilford) all applauded the decision by Honda.
“Guilford County is the beating heart of North Carolina’s thriving aviation industry,” Garrett, whose district includes PTI, wrote in an email to WGHP. “HondaJet is one of our community’s signature employers, and I am excited they’ve decided to write the next chapter of their company’s story in our community. Their exciting new jet facility will bring an additional 280, high-paying, new economy jobs to Guilford County.”
Said Hardister in a text message: “We are very fortunate to have HondaJet in our community. Any growth of their company is welcome news. I look forward to watching their continued success and supporting their efforts, especially through workforce development in our education system.”
Said Faircloth said in a statement released by the governor’s office: “Many people and organizations in our area worked hard to support this company and make today’s decision possible. Our entire community applauds Honda Aircraft’s expansion and will work together every day to help this company continue to grow in North Carolina.”
Like Cooper, North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders touted the state’s reputation for business and availability of talent. “Locations that can offer a talented and well-trained workforce, tailored to the needs of a particular industry, succeed in today’s business environment,” she said in a statement released by the governor’s office. “North Carolina’s “First in Talent” strategic plan helps our state deliver the world-class workforce that makes us the best place to do business in the world.”
Continued growth at PTI
The investment in HondaJet continues the significant growth of the aerospace industry at PTI. In January 2022, the state, county and city provided about $130 million in incentives to lure Boom Supersonic to PTI and earlier this year they provided more than $4.3 million to attract Marshall Aerospace to construct a maintenance facility for C-130 aircraft at the airport.
“You fail a lot, you know, before you win sometimes, and I think that we’ve seen our share of those, but now, we’re seeing our share of victories,” PTI Executive Director Kevin Baker told WGHP.
“It really raises the standard of living throughout our entire region,” Vaughan said. “It brings wages up. In other industries. It also helps grow our tax base and by growing our tax base, we can look at lowering our property taxes in the future.”
HondaJet was developed in Greensboro starting in 2001, and the Honda Aircraft Company was founded in 2006. Its first official jets were aloft in 2015. The company employs about 1,500 at 6430 Ballinger Road in Greensboro and other locations across the Triad.
HondaJet as of 2021 had delivered about 200 jets to private customers, and the company has said its new product line will work in conjunction with the existing HondaJet Elite II and that the company plans to accomplish certification in 2028.
The company has described the 2600 model as “a light jet with performances comparable to medium-sized jet” and would be capable of “nonstop transcontinental flight” – which it claims would be “the world’s first light jet capable” of that – and would accommodate up to 11 occupants while being flown by a single pilot.
In addition to those three aviation companies, PTI also is home to Cessna, HAECO, FedEx and dozens of other aerospace-related contractors.