Piper Confirms Layoffs, Still Seeks Incentive Money

 - January 22, 2009, 10:27 AM

Vero Beach, Fla.-based Piper Aircraft confirmed that it laid off 150 employees, company CEO Jim Bass told Indian River County commissioners at a general meeting yesterday. Further, Bass said Piper could cut more personnel “if it gets worse,” adding that the manufacturer could reduce its production output by up to 40 percent this year due to the slowdown in sales of general aviation aircraft. He also told local officials that Piper will seek future installments of the $32 million county and state incentive package “at an undisclosed later date.” Local and state authorities came up with the multimillion-dollar incentive package last year to keep Piper from moving its headquarters and PiperJet manufacturing activities away from Vero Beach. Piper accepted the first installment of $10.667 million last year and is using that money to hurricane-proof its buildings and for tools and equipment. To qualify for the second $10.667 million, Piper must employ an average of 1,166 people by year-end; it currently employs about 1,000. In an attempt to help Piper and other Florida GA businesses, state Rep. Ralph Poppell (R-Vero Beach) is reintroducing a proposal that eliminates Florida sales tax on out-of-state aircraft purchases.