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Dassault foresees 40% output rise

End-of-2015 expansion in LR to translate into more jobs

By Jack Weatherly

This article was published March 6, 2014 at 3:20 a.m.


Brett Boister, a sales engineer at Power Technology Inc., demonstrates an optical lens used in laser models at the Arkansas Aerospace Summit Wednesday. The two-day event ends today.

Dassault Falcon Jet Corp. expects to increase its output by 40 percent after a $65 million expansion at its Little Rock completions center is finished by the end of 2015, Robert Smith, senior vice president of business development, said Wednesday.

Smith declined to say how many people will be hired after the expansion. He said the company’s total employment now is between 1,800 and 1,900.

“We’re going to hire people.I’m not going to say how many,” Smith said.

The expansion was announced in May, after the state approved an incentives package that included a 3.9 percent cash rebate for 420 jobs created by the expansion or retained for at least 10 years.

Smith said that for every new Dassault job, five support jobs are created in the state.

Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, confirmed that the “multiplier” effect for aerospace is one of the highest.

Smith also declined to say how many construction jobs will result from the expansion, though he said most of the work will be done by Arkansas builders and most of the building materials will be purchased in the state.

The cost of the expansion was initially estimated at $60 million, but Smith said Wednesday that it will be $65 million.

Smith was one of the speakers at the Aerospace Summit at the Embassy Suites hotel in west Little Rock. The gathering, which is sponsored by the Arkansas Aerospace Alliance, will conclude today.

The 25 percent expansion and reconfiguration of the 1 million-square-foot Dassault plant, which is what Smith called the last step in the assembly line, is being made to accommodate the 5X business jet, the French plane manufacturer’s largest such aircraft. The planes are built in France and flown to the Little Rock facility to be finished.

“Obviously if we increase the output of our deliveries, we’re going to have a lot more customers coming through here. Some stay as long as four or five months” in a hotel or other accommodations, Smith said.

He said representatives from 100 to 500 companies, many of them foreign, travel to Little Rock because of his company, which has a favorable economic impact on the city and the state.

“They’re getting to see not only [Dassault], they’re getting to see the rest of Little Rock and Arkansas,” Smith said.

A hangar of about 250,000 square feet is to be built to accommodate 14 of the 5X planes.

Existing space will be reworked for cabinetry, seat fabrication and headliner operations.

The headliner shop should be finished in May, Smith said. Construction of the seat-fabrication shop will start next week and should be ready for operation by the end of the year. The new cabinet shop should be ready by the end of 2015, he said.

The aerospace industry in Arkansas employs about 8,800, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Its exports of $1.8 billion in 2013 led the state, the agency said.

The Boeing Co., which has no facility in Arkansas, nevertheless has 31 vendors based in the state, which were paid $30.6 million in 2013, according to Steve Hendrickson, director of governmental operations for the company, which is based in Chicago and has its major plant in Everett, Wash. Hendrickson was also a speaker at the conference.

Business, Pages 25 on 03/06/2014

Print Headline: Dassault foresees 40% output rise


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RBBrittain says... March 6, 2014 at 1:06 p.m.

Are they gonna expand just their existing north-side property, or will they take over the old HB plant on the south side?

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