Brooksville airport lures jet refurbishing company

BROOKSVILLE — Corporate executives who want to build a dream jet out of an old commercial airliner might soon be able to get the work done at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.

Brooksville airport

On Tuesday, the Hernando County Commission will consider a lease agreement and incentive package for a new company planning to open at the airport as an airplane modification and repair business.

If the deal is approved, the company, which has not allowed county officials to disclose its identity, would bring 125 full-time, high-paying jobs in the next three years, making it the largest new business attracted to the Brooksville airport in recent memory.

The identity of the company now known only as Project TAS will be revealed at Tuesday’s board meeting, when the company’s chief executive officer and other staffers will make a presentation about their business, and share letters from national and international clients seeking to have their airplanes modified, said Valerie Pianta, the county’s economic development supervisor.

“It’s a big deal for us, plus it’s aviation,” she said.

The company plans to locate on Technology Drive in the old headquarters of Corporate Jet Solutions and, before that, the Brooksville Air Center. The site features an office building and a large aircraft hangar, which would allow work to be done on wide-body and narrow-body jets. The fuel farm that was part of the previous businesses’ leases with the airport is not included in the Project TAS lease and is slated to be removed.

That means the site will not be a fixed-base operator, which was the source of much of the controversy over the previous lease holder, who remains in litigation with the county over unpaid lease money and a legal squabble over repairs to the facility.

Project TAS has committed to a 20-year lease with an option to buy and plans for expansion on the site.

The incentive package calls for the county’s economic development fund to pay the cost of leasing the facility for the next three years, which amounts to $377,028 the fund would pay directly to the airport over that period. The company would also provide some form of surety that would repay the county if the company fails to create the number of jobs promised and retain them for at least five years, Pianta said.

“We were creative and flexible with the incentives,” she said. “We were thinking outside of the box and not like the typical, but I think we also protected the county.”

The work will range from making minor cabin changes to major modifications such as floor plan overhauls or cabin replacements.

The average wage for the new jobs is anticipated to be $45,861, which will generate $6.5 million in personal income annually. The impact of creating those jobs and the indirect jobs created because of the businesses’ economic contributions are expected to bring an additional $10.8 million to the gross county product, according to officials.

“It’s a very exciting project,” Pianta said. “It could be a real game changer for this airport.”

Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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