A major aviation company is poised to make up to a $90 million investment in a training facility at the Dothan Regional Airport.
The Dothan City Commission granted construction, property and equipment-related tax abatements to CAE USA Inc., and WMJHSR Investments, LLC Tuesday for the purpose of the construction of what is being called a Center of Excellence for Flight training facility at the airport.
CAE is expected to have the Department of Defense contract to provide fixed wing training for around 600 Army and Air Force pilots through at least 2023. It is not yet known how many jobs the project will initially create.
CAE will provide a combination of live and simulated training at the airport along with classroom instruction.
The aircraft will be the Army C-12/RC-12 King Air for recurrent training and the Air Force C-12 King Air for annual training.
The abatements were not listed on the regular City Commission agenda, but were added by a vote of the commission during Tuesday’s meeting. Officials said the agenda item was added at the last minute because the project was coming to fruition and timing was important.
Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce President Matt Parker said the facility could attract other related industry.
“This is a game changer,” Parker said Tuesday. “This will create a new opportunity to grow, to expand and create a market and possibly bring in some future vendors.”
A more formal announcement could come within the next two or three weeks.
Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz said economic development officials from Houston County, Dale County and the State of Alabama had been working on the project for about two years. The bid for fixed-wing training had been awarded early last year, but became tied up in appeals for quite some time.
“We’re proud to have a world class aviation company in this community,” Schmitz said. “Hopefully, the growth opportunities this will provide at the airport will lead to more to come.”
The vote Tuesday abates non-educational property taxes imposed by the State and County for 10 years, and 20 years for city-related non-educational property taxes. It also abates construction-related transaction taxes, mortgage and recording taxes.
The abatements are allowed under Chapter 9B of Title 40 of the Code of Alabama, passed in 1992 to aid communities in economic development.
CAE is a worldwide training company. It employs 8,000 people at more than 160 sites and training locations in 35 countries, with headquarters in Canada. It trains primarily in the areas of civil and defense aviation, but also provides training simulators to the health care industry.
CAE has already begun advertising several jobs related to the anticipated move, including aircraft maintenance manager, quality assurance manager, and several other positions including aircrew training instructors, simulator technicians and simulator and visual database engineers.