GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — State officials are planning a major economic development announcement for Wednesday at Piedmont Triad International Airport to announce to welcome a new airplane manufacturer that has been called “Project Thunderbird.”

The event is scheduled for 2 p.m., sources close to the effort have told WGHP, and Gov. Roy Cooper, NC Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders, Senate Leader Phil Berger and NC House Speaker Tim Moore are among those expected to attend.

An aerial view of the airport construction at Piedmont Triad International Airport. (Courtesy of PTIA)

Boom Supersonic, the developer of next-generation jets, has been reported as the target for a $106.75 million incentive package approved in November by the NC General Assembly and signed by Cooper.

That package specifies at least 500 new jobs that would pay an average of $60,000 a year. Other estimates have suggested more than 1,700 could be hired by the manufacturer.

This planned announcement would follow meetings of the Department of Commerce’s Economic Investment Committee, which has a regularly scheduled call on Tuesday and a second scheduled for Wednesday morning. That group must give final approval for the specifics of the state’s incentive package.

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners also has a public hearing scheduled virtually for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to consider “special economic incentives” for a manufacturing corporation that would invest $500 million. And the Greensboro City Council later on Friday called a special meeting for 10 a.m. that sources told WGHP also will focus on the Project Thunderbird.

The governor’s office did not respond immediately to questions about his schedule, but this pattern of events would match the one he followed in early December to announce Toyota would build a battery manufacturing facility at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite near Liberty. The state OKd its incentives, and then the city of Greensboro followed with similar contributions just before the dignitaries gathered.

Project Thunderbird, so revealed by state Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Winston-Salem), is designed to lure an airplane manufacturing facility to some of the roughly 1,000 acres of land being developed at PTI.

The state would provide $106.75 million in a Job Development Investment Grant, with some $15 million to be used for site work at the airport, $35 million for roadwork through the NC Department of Transportation and $56.75 million for the airport to use “for the construction of one or more new hangars.”

Guilford County’s public hearing, to be held via Zoom, is to consider an Economic Development Incentive Grant to authorize 80% of eligible tax revenue paid by the company and for 10 years. The county’s announcement said this would be for “a manufacturing corporation anticipating the creation of approx. 1,761 jobs. The company proposes to invest up to $500 million in personal property expenditures and real property improvements in the Greensboro area.”

Commissioners also last month approved $2 million in incentives for an undisclosed economic development project at the airport.

State Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Greensboro), who along with Sanders and other officials toured the development site at the airport last year, has called the project “significant for Guilford County and surrounding counties.”

These are the tracts under development at Piedmont Triad International Airport. (PTIA)

PTI Executive Director Kevin Baker PTI has declined to discuss Project Thunderbird, but he has described the 1,000 acres in various stages of development on the north side of I-73 that, he said, is “ready for multiple users.”

“We have sections from 100 to 200 acres that are ready to go,” Baker said. “Any project that comes around will depend on where it goes and the needs to finalize it.”

The parcel is connected by a taxiway constructed across I-73 – “It needs to be paved,” Baker has said – and a radar tower that had to be relocated south near Market Street “will be done by summertime.”

The airport is home to about 50 companies, including HondaJet and Cessna, that, as of 2019, had an $8,641,160,000 economic impact, based on a report commissioned and published by the NC Department of Transportation.

Boom Supersonic has a contract to provide jets to United Airline. (BOOM)

Boom was founded in 2014 by CEO Blake Scholl, a former Groupon executive, and rolled out its XB-1 supersonic jet in October 2020. The company has a contract to provide jets to United Airlines.

The company says on its website that it builds jets that could fly from Paris to Montreal in 3 hours and 45 minutes instead of the 7:15 for commercial airliners.

“We believe in a world where more people can go to more places more often. Sustainable supersonic travel unlocks new possibilities for business relationships, prospects for vacation, and opportunities for human connection,” Scholl said on Boom’s website.