Piper Seeks Forgiveness

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Piper is seeking to renegotiate a deal it made with the state of Florida and Indian River County to avoid paying back some government incentives, TCPalm reported Thursday. In 2008, Piper agreed to repay more than $1.5 million of a $10.7 million incentive package it received from the state and county if it failed to meet specific employment benchmarks. Piper has now written state officials to ask forgiveness for those government investments. In a letter to the state, Piper officials said, "This will help ensure the company can successfully continue to manage its financial affairs and accomplish its marketing, sales and employment goals in the future."

As part of the 2008 agreement, Piper agreed to employ 1,100 people by year-end 2009. The company could not find market conditions to support that goal and, by summer 2009, Piper's employment rolls fell below 600. Company officials have suspended the Altaire jet program and now estimate they will have about 700 employees by year-end 2011. Economic forces weren't the only ones to batter Piper. According to the company, it spent incentive money not only on aircraft research and development, but also on building repair. Piper facilities suffered damage due to hurricanes in 2004. In asking for financial forgiveness, the company contends that its activities and investments returned to the state and county more money -- by a ratio of nine-to-one -- than it took.