Vero Beach Officials Battle Piper Move

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Although the company has never actually said it’s planning to move, the talk around Vero Beach, Fla., seems to accept it as inevitable that the area’s largest employer, Piper Aircraft, is heading for greener (as in more tax-friendly) pastures for its PiperJet manufacturing facility. According to TCPalm, local economic development officials confirmed this week that they are actively trying to dissuade Piper from heading to communities like Tallahassee, Fla., Albuquerque, N.M., Columbia, S.C. and Oklahoma City, all of which are reportedly trying to lure the firm and its future very light jet factory. "The team has been meeting for several months to create an incentive package to keep Indian River County's largest employer at their current location as well as to locate their new jet facility here," local chamber of commerce president Penny Chandler said in a news release. "The company is evaluating locations for its headquarters and aviation manufacturing facility." A Piper spokesman did not reply to AVweb’s request for comment. Piper employs more than 1,000 people in Vero Beach and its economic impact is estimated at $518 million a year. There are indications that other communities bidding for Piper are willing to offer substantial incentives, something that worries the company’s existing employees. They’re afraid those incentives will require Piper to hire locally rather than allow current employees to move with the company. A meeting of local officials is scheduled for Wednesday to discuss Vero Beach’s incentive package.