Companies to bring 100-plus jobs to airport

April 19th, 2019

By BETSY CALVERT - Charlotte Sun

Large facilities planned for airline mechanics, boat builders

More than 100 jobs are expected from two companies now negotiating leases at the Punta Gorda Airport.

Intrepid Aerospace of Fort Myers is an airplane mechanic company that will be opening the soonest of the two companies and bringing in the most jobs — more than 100, the county’s Interim Economic Development Director Dave Gammon told the Sun. The second company is Megal Corporation, which builds metal rescue and firefighting boats. It plans to use the Charlotte Harbor region and a retention pond near the airport to test its boats in both salt and fresh water, Gammon said. The Airport Authority will discuss both leases at its meeting today. “This is a big deal,” Gammon said of the Intrepid prospect in particular. “They’re hoping to be operational in six months.” Large airplane maintenance facilities like this normally operate at big airports, such as in Tampa or Miami, he said. They were drawn to Punta Gorda by the quality of the airport management and the location, he said. Types of jobs at Intrepid include airplane mechanics. At Megal, the jobs will include welders, marine riggers, managers and administrators. Both companies have plans to build large facilities on site. Intrepid is moving the quickest and its April 9 letter of intent announces plans to build a $1.8 million temporary hangar to work on commercial aircraft. Within a few years, the company will build a permanent facility at another location at the airport, Gammon said. Megal is a Florida based corporation set up over three boat manufacturing entities: MetalCraft Marine, Stanley Aluminum Boats and Connor Industries. Metalcraft is a New York and Canada-based company that first announced its Charlotte County plans in 2017. Since then, the company’s plans have expanded dramatically. It 2017, the plan was to buy a 5-acre private lot and to build a 10,000-squarefoot facility. Now, Megal’s plan is to lease 60 acres from the airport and build a 25,000- to 60,000-square-foot facility, according to a Feb. 13 letter of intent. “They’ve got several contracts they need to fill, and they need the capacity to fulfill them,” Gammon said.

Charlotte County Commissioners in 2017 agreed to grant MetalCraft, via Megal, a tax incentive worth up to $86,500 over 10 years. In exchange, MetalCraft projected $14.5 million in sales. It also promised then to hire at least 10 and up to 30 full-time workers. MetalCraft estimated in 2017 that the average salary would be $40,560 — above the county average. That makes the company eligible for a state tax incentive of $5,000 per job. Gammon said the tax incentives remain. Part of the reason for the delay for MetalCraft, Gammon said, was its decision to build bigger than its first proposal. That required getting more investors, he said. Also, Gammon said, gaining water access to a retention pond proved too lengthy on private land near the airport, so the company will be leasing from the airport, which cannot sell its land.