GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHIP) — A series of meetings on Wednesday morning will pave the way for the big reveal Wednesday afternoon at Piedmont Triad International Airport: a new airplane manufacturer that will bring at least 1,750 jobs to the region.
Guilford County Commissioners will have a virtual public hearing at 8:30 a.m. to discuss economic incentives to lure an “unnamed company” to the airport. The Greensboro City Council will follow at 10 with a special meeting for a similar agenda.
But then the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Economic Investment Committee will convene for a special meeting at 11 a.m. at which the details of who will be coming to the airport and what that company is promising will be discussed.
That’s the call when the $106.75 million in incentives the NC General Assembly approved last month will become official, and the new company will be endorsed.
That company is presumed to be Boom Supersonic, the developer of next-generation jets that has been reported as the target. Boom, which is based in Denver, is building a commercial jet that United Airlines has contracted to put in the air by the end of this decade. Those jets have to be manufactured somewhere.
Gov. Roy Cooper, NC Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders, state Senate Leader Phil Berger, NC House Speaker Tim Moore and a host of dignitaries are expected at the airport Wednesday at 2 p.m. to greet that company.
The state’s incentives package for the so-called “Project Thunderbird” specifies at least 500 new jobs that would pay an average of $60,000 a year.
Guilford County’s public hearing would address local tax reductions for a manufacturing corporation anticipating the creation of approximately 1,761 jobs and invests up to $500 million “in personal property expenditures and real property improvements in the Greensboro area.”
The city’s agenda calls for an economic development incentive grant in an amount not to exceed $1,500 per job for “an unnamed corporation considering the Piedmont Triad International Airport.” It cites the same numbers as did the county’s proposal but says “the average wage for the new full-time positions will be approximately $69,000 with additional benefits and no new jobs will pay below $15.00 per hour.”
PTI Executive Director Kevin Baker, who has declined to discuss Project Thunderbird, said the airport has about 1,000 available acres in various stages of development on the north side of I-73 that, he said, is “ready for multiple users.”
That parcel is connected to the main airport property 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 state’s incentives, in the form of a Job Development Investment Grant, would specify 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.”
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, founded in 2014 by CEO Blake Scholl, a former Groupon executive, rolled out its XB-1 supersonic jet in October 2020 and is planning to build an Overture jet, which the company says would transport 60 or more passengers from New York to London in about three and a half hours. Boom also promises to fly around the world and to do so on sustainable fuels rather than petroleum-based products.
Boom is planning to have its first jets in the air by about 2025 and then be fully launched by 2029. The company is privately held but has drawn significant investment.
This announcement is the second major economic deal for the region in the past two months. In early December Cooper and others were in Randolph County to announce Toyota would construct a battery manufacturing facility at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite near Liberty.
That facility, which will manufacture batteries for electric vehicles, is expected to bring 1,750 jobs with a median salary of $62,234. Toyota is expected to invest $1.272 billion by Dec. 31, 2026.