Duluth Jobs Assured Says CAIGA

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An unusual example of grassroots diplomacy has netted Duluth, Minn., an assurance of sorts that it will retain the jobs that go with one of its biggest employers. When China Aviation Industry General Aircraft announced plans to buy Cirrus Aircraft last February, the fear (and assumption by some) was that the operation would be moved to the People's Republic. The concern persisted after repeated assurances from Cirrus brass, and the Duluth City Council was among those looking for assurances. About six weeks ago, the city government sent a memorandum of understanding to CAIGA's top brass seeking assurances the production facilities and their jobs will stay in Duluth. Last week CAIGA President Xiangkai Meng and Duluth Mayor Don Ness signed the document in a ceremony in Duluth.

The paper in no way prevents CAIGA from changing its plans and moving the plant but Duluth officials say it does have significant symbolic value. "Verbal assurances are wonderful," Ness told the Duluth News Tribune. "But a written assurance, signed by the president of CAIGA, certainly carries much more weight." Cirrus spokesman Bill King told the newspaper the written agreement wasn't really necessary. "We have a long history of doing what we say, of building a reputation as we built this company in Duluth and Grand Forks," King said. "We're very proud of that."