Town's Fortunes Ride On Mustang

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Cessna announced Monday that it will build the 340-knots-at-35,000-feet, six-place Mustang mini-jet in Independence, Kan., alongside the piston singles its plant there now makes. It turns out the out-of-the-way nature of the place was its biggest asset. Cessna spokeswoman Jessica Myers said there's room for expansion in Independence, and the ability to test-fly a lot of aircraft. Cessna already has 200 orders for the Mustang, which won't be available for two years, and expects it to be its biggest bizjet seller. To get ready for the expected mini-jet boom, Cessna will pour $13 million into additional plant space. At peak production the Mustang line will employ 500 people in addition to the 350 who make the singles. Local governments are providing incentives to cut the company's training, labor and construction costs. But all that now sounds like a bargain to the people of Independence, who have been hit hard by layoffs, plant closures and business failures in recent years. "My emotions range from extremely happy to extremely thankful," local resident Dennis Pruitt told The Wichita Eagle. Columbus, Ga., will also benefit because the wings will be built there. Sales and administrative support will come from the head office in Wichita.