Montrose takes flight
The formal announcement Friday that the German manufacturer, Extra Aircraft, will locate a manufacturing plant near the Montrose County Airport and bring 200 high-paying jobs to the community is certainly welcome news for Montrose, and indirectly, for the entire Western Slope. It raises the profile of this region around the world.
But the landing of the Extra plant didn’t occur just because Montrose got lucky. Officials with the Montrose Economic Development Corp. and local government made a concerted effort to convince Extra Aircraft of the benefits of opening a plant there. No doubt the quality of life, the remarkable outdoor activities and the great community were discussed. But Montrose officials went further, and there’s a lesson there for all communities involved in economic development efforts in the midst of a tough economy.
Although the details are still being negotiated, the community is expected to spend close to $3 million to attract Extra Aircraft to Montrose. It is expected to lease a temporary building to the company for minimal cost, and land for a more permanent location later. Temporary tax breaks are also expected to be part of the deal.
County authorities and local residents have reasonable concerns about the company’s future and its past performance.
To that end, the county has established performance benchmarks for the company, and penalties if it fails to meet them, and other conditions the company must meet.
None of this guarantees that Extra Aircraft will be a permanent economic boost to Montrose. Both Montrose and Grand Junction have seen businesses that were expected to be long-term additions to the area move in, only to pull up stakes after a few years.
But Montrose economic development authorities and Montrose County have demonstrated they are serious players in the economic development race, eager to attract an important industry and protect taxpayers at the same time.