Bell closes Lafayette assembly facility
Bell Helicopter is closing down one of its main assembly facilities at the Lafayette Regional Airport in Louisiana after the Louisiana Economic Development (LED) cancelled the contract to support the project.
The state of Louisiana signed a contract with Bell in 2013 to give Bell economic incentives to establish an assembly facility in Lafayette.
The state terminated a contract to support the Helicopter manufacturer as it was failing to meet performance obligations and is now seeking $16 million payment from the company – local news source News Star reported.
LED provided $26 million in funding to the manufacturer in 2013 to establish an assembly base in the state. The facility was initially supposed to be the final assembly line for the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X but later transitioned to the 525 cabin subassembly facility.
Bell released this statement: “Effective Monday, August 20, Bell began taking steps to close its Lafayette Assembly Centre and has begun transitioning 525 cabin subassembly work to Amarillo.”
In response to the contract being cancelled, Bell has filed action with the Louisiana State Court. It is looking to determine the rights and responsibilities established in the original agreement.
The contract required Bell to bring more business to the airport and create a certain number of jobs to secure continued funding and support from the LED.
Part of the agreement was that Bell would have to create 115 new direct jobs. Bell renegotiated the contract last year to bring that number down to 95. According to KLFY, Bell currently employs 22 full-time workers at the site.
Employees were notified on Monday that the facility would be closing. Bell said in a statement that it is working to find new positions within the company and the local community for its employees.
Louisiana economic development secretary Don Pierson said: “Following four years of under performance by the company and a failure to produce either of the agreed-upon operations, LED has elected to terminate its cooperative endeavour agreement with Bell Helicopter.”
The state economic development said that it had ‘no choice’ but to cancel the agreement.