Piper Aircraft has not attained all the benchmarks that were set when the state of Florida invested $6.6 million in the company's expansion four years ago, but given the state of the economy since then, the state has agreed to not seek payback from the company. As long as Piper stays in Florida and meets certain employment obligations for the next four years, the debt will be forgiven, Piper said this week. The company also received $4 million from the county, but a similar compromise to avoid repayment is expected to be finalized by next week.
Alan Polackwich, attorney for the county, told TCPalm.com the agreement is a compromise. "This recognizes that they didn't do everything [called for in the 2008 agreement], but they did do quite a bit." Piper said it now employs more than 650 full-time-equivalent workers in Vero Beach, and has invested more than $100 million in the Vero Beach operations. "Following a worldwide economic recession in general aviation, Piper is managing to emerge as a strong company with a backlog and a global presence in the aerospace industry," said Piper CEO Simon Caldecott. "As the largest manufacturing exporter in Indian River County, we are gratified that the state has recognized our ongoing contributions to Florida, Indian River County and Vero Beach."