New Customer Experience Center Coming to McGhee Tyson; ORNL Tie
May 6, 2015
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  • NASHVILLE—Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd along with Cirrus Aircraft Co-Founder and CEO Dale Klapmeier today announced the company will expand into Tennessee with its new Cirrus Customer Experience Center, called the ‘Vision Center,’ to be located at the McGhee Tyson Airport in Blount County. The new location will create 170 jobs in the Knoxville area and represents a $15 million investment.

    “Cirrus Aircraft will feel right at home here as a company that sets the standard for innovation in its industry, and we want to thank Cirrus for bringing its new customer experience facility to East Tennessee,” Haslam said. “Tennessee has incredible resources such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Arnold Engineering Development Complex that can help attract aerospace companies, and today’s announcement is another significant step toward our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

    “It’s an exciting day when I get to welcome a new corporate citizen to Tennessee,” Boyd said. “We pride ourselves on building relationships and growing partnerships with outstanding companies like Cirrus Aircraft. When companies locate in our state, they not only want a great place to do business, but also a great place to live. We are honored they chose Tennessee, and we look forward to working with Cirrus for many years to come.”

    The Vision Center will become the flagship location for all Cirrus Aircraft pilot, owner and customer activities including sales, delivery, training, maintenance, support, personalization, fixed base operations and more for all Cirrus airplanes including the Vision SF50 single-engine personal jet, scheduled for certification in late 2015.

    “The Vision Center is the next step in our goal to reimagine general aviation and the flying experience at Cirrus Aircraft,” Klapmeier said. “We call that aviation experience ‘The Cirrus Life’ and with the Vision Center in Knoxville, we are bringing together transformational new airplanes with a reinvented customer and ownership experience, all led by the forward thinking leadership team that is unique to Cirrus Aircraft.”

    The selection of the Knoxville/Alcoa area for the home of the Vision Center was the result of a detailed site evaluation process that initially included more than 15 states and 30 on-airport locations. McGhee Tyson Airport rose to the top with its combination of convenient location to the installed Cirrus owner base in North America, unique airport and area amenities, favorable weather and a welcoming community for Cirrus Aircraft employees and their families. Todd Simmons, Cirrus Aircraft Chief Customer Officer, will lead the Cirrus aircraft team at the new home for all Cirrus Aircraft customer activities and operations.

    The Vision Center will be the location for factory direct type rating training from Cirrus Aircraft. A key component of the SF50 training curriculum at the Vision Center will be a Level D, full-motion flight simulator currently under development at CAE, the world’s premier simulator and flight training device provider. This full flight simulator, along with several other fixed training devices, will be the cornerstone of Vision SF50 type rating and annual recurrent training. Other key Vision Center partners will be announced closer to facility completion, currently slated for second quarter of 2016.

    In addition to factory direct training, the Vision Center will allow customers to experience the Cirrus Aircraft brand in multiple ways. A factory service center will provide support for the new Vision SF50 and more than 6,000 SR aircraft currently in the field. A design center will allow customers to personalize both new and current Cirrus aircraft, providing individualization opportunities fueled by imagination. Including training, these are just a few of the components that the Vision Center will allow pilots, owners and enthusiasts the opportunity to experience ‘The Cirrus Life’.
    “I am thrilled to welcome Cirrus to East Tennessee!” Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said. “This is great news for Knoxville, for our airport and our entire region. This demonstrates again that this is a great, friendly place to do business. I look forward to working with Cirrus to provide the best possible experience for the company and their customers.”

    “Cirrus Aircraft’s decision to invest in McGhee Tyson Airport is a resounding vote of confidence in our region and for the state of Tennessee,” Chairman of the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority’s Board of Commissioners Howard Vogel said. “We are proud to have been selected as the site for their business expansion and we look forward to welcoming Cirrus and their aircraft owners to East Tennessee.”

    “We are extremely excited about Cirrus Aircraft announcing their plans to build a customization facility in Blount County,” City of Alcoa Mayor Don Mull said. “The company, their management philosophy and employees are a great match for our area. The state of Tennessee, the Metropolitan Airport Authority and entire recruitment team have done an outstanding job working with the Cirrus owners to create a win-win situation. We look forward to welcoming Cirrus to our community.”

    “This is outstanding news for all of Blount County and our citizens,” Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell said. “We have created a culture that thankfully great companies want to be a part of. This will bring more of the type of jobs that allow individuals and families to enjoy a level of financial comfort and stability they deserve. It all comes together when we all work together.”

    “ORNL joins Governor Haslam in welcoming Cirrus Aircraft to Tennessee and the Innovation Valley,” Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason said. “We have met with company officials several times over the past year to discuss ways ORNL can support Cirrus’s growth and have committed funding from Tennessee’s RevV! program to provide research and development assistance.”

    “Serving the people of the Tennessee Valley by attracting and keeping companies with quality jobs in our region is fundamental to TVA’s mission,” TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson said. “TVA and Alcoa Electric Department congratulate Cirrus Aircraft on its new home for aircraft product innovation. We commend the state of Tennessee and many regional and community partners for their diligent efforts to win this project.”

    “We are really thrilled about the Cirrus Aircraft relocation and its commitment to this community,” Chair of the Blount County Economic Development Board Fred Lawson said. “This announcement of new operations continues the upward trend Blount County has seen over the past five years with nearly 3000 jobs and more than $462 million of capital investment.”

    Cirrus Aircraft is headquartered in Duluth, Minnesota along with the company’s research and development and manufacturing operations. The Vision SF50, SR20, SR22 and SR22T aircraft will continue to be produced at company facilities in Grand Forks, North Dakota and Duluth.

    Klapmeier concluded, “On behalf of all Cirrus Aircraft pilots, owners, partners and employees around the world, ‘thank you’ Governor Haslam, the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, the community of Knoxville, Blount County, ORNL, TVA and of course the state of Tennessee for your hospitality and for your partnership. Our mission statement at Cirrus Aircraft is to deliver an aviation experience to our customers that is the pinnacle of innovation, quality and safety. We know that our best is still ahead of us at Cirrus with game-changing new airplanes like the Vision SF50 and in developing truly innovative and transformational training, ownership and support solutions – all delivered in a new way and at a facility never before seen in general aviation.”

    More information is available at cirrusaircraft.com/visioncenter.

    Alcoa and Blount County are represented by Sen. Doug Overbey (R – Maryville), Rep. Art Swann (R – Maryville) and Rep. Bob Ramsey (R – Maryville) in the Tennessee General Assembly.

    About Cirrus Aircraft

    Cirrus Aircraft is a recognized leader in general aviation. Its all-composite line of personal aircraft – the SR20, SR22 and the turbocharged SR22T – incorporate innovative and advanced performance, electronic and safety technologies, including Cirrus Perspective™ by Garmin® avionics and the unique Cirrus Airframe Parachute System™ (CAPS). Cirrus has delivered more than 6,000 certified airplanes since 1999 and total time on the worldwide Cirrus Aircraft SR-series fleet surpassed seven million flight hours with 105 lives saved as a direct result of CAPS being a standard safety feature on all Cirrus aircraft. The Cirrus Vision SF50, with over 550 production positions reserved, will provide a new personal and regional business transportation solution: the personal jet. All Cirrus aircraft are made in the U.S. with a direct sales force in North America and authorized sales centers covering export markets in 60 countries around the world. Cirrus Aircraft is wholly owned by China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co., Ltd (CAIGA). For additional information on Cirrus and its products please visit cirrusaircraft.com.

    About the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

    Tennessee was named 2014 and 2013 “State of the Year” for economic development by Business Facilities magazine. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies which help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. The department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Find us on the web: tnecd.com. Follow us on Twitter: @tnecd. Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/tnecd.