Mo. revises Bombardier enticements

Friday, May 2, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Grounding their concerns, Missouri senators passed a $240 million package of state tax enticements Thursday aimed at landing a Canadian company's new airplane assembly plant at Kansas City International Airport.

The incentives for Bombardier Aerospace cleared the Senate by a 24-8 vote, but only after the state revised its offer by reducing the tax credits and adding greater protections for taxpayers in case the project turns sour.

The legislation now needs only a final vote in the House, which gave overwhelming approval to an earlier version, to go to Gov. Matt Blunt. Even then, there is no guarantee that Montreal-based Bombardier will locate its new assembly plant in Missouri instead of its home country.

But a Bombardier spokesman confirmed Thursday that the company is looking closely at Missouri, even with the revised incentives.

"We believe that their offer will be a very, very serious and interesting one," said spokesman Marc Duchesne.

The original proposal would have granted Bombardier up to $40 million annually in tax credits for 22 years. The revised plan would cap those tax credits at eight years and a total of $240 million. It would suspend the tax credits if Bombardier doesn't make sufficient payments to the state and force them to be immediately repaid if the company violates certain terms of the agreement.

The plan anticipates Missouri will begin paying out tax credits only after Bombardier has built its projected $375 million assembly plant and started employing a work force that eventually could reach 2,100 people. Bombardier is to fully repay the state aid, plus a 5.1 percent rate of return, by giving Missouri a fixed amount of money for each of the new 110- or 130-seat passenger jets it sells from the Kansas City plant.

If at any point the state is out more than $155 million to Bombardier, any additional tax credits would be suspended.

Although not spelled out in the bill, Bombardier could stop making payments to Missouri once it offsets all the tax credits and meets the state's positive rate of return, said Department of Economic Development Director Greg Steinhoff.

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