Kestrel Stalls In Wisconsin, Maine
The state of Wisconsin plans to take legal action against Kestrel for the company’s failure “to show measurable progress toward obtaining financing” to repay a state loan that’s 11 months overdue, the Duluth News Tribune reported this week. Wisconsin gave the company, headed by Alan Klapmeier, $4 million in state loans and millions more in tax incentives in 2012. The money was meant to help build a plant in Superior, Wisconsin, to work on the single-engine turboprop and help create more than 600 jobs. The plant hasn’t been built and no workers have been hired. Kestrel is now part of One Aviation, formed in 2015 with Eclipse Aerospace, based in Albuquerque. The Kestrel project has gone quiet, while One Aviation has been promoting a new version of the Eclipse jet, the EA700. Klapmeier did not respond to inquiries from the News Tribune or from AVweb.
Kestrel repaid $865,490 of the $4 million but hasn't made a payment since November 2016, according to the News Tribune. Kestrel also has been evicted from a hangar in Maine after failing to pay on its lease for more than a year, the Portland Press Herald reported last week. The 64,000-square-foot hangar had been leased for 20 years at $15,000 per month. Kestrel employed about a dozen workers at the site. Steve Levesque, executive director of the agency that operates the hangar, told the Press Herald they gave Kestrel time to find the financing to keep the operation going. “They were a tenant and it didn’t work out with us,” Levesque said. “It is like anything else, if you are not current on your rent, you have to move on.” The agency has filed a lawsuit to recover those payments, according to the Falmouth Forecaster. Klapmeier did not respond to the Press Herald’s or Forecaster’s requests for comment.
Klapmeier did speak to Wisconsin Public Radio on Tuesday. Klapmeier said he’s trying to stay in business, preserve jobs, make the project work and pay the state back. "We’ve tried to live up to our end of the deal," he said. Klapmeier said the company missed an August deadline on the Wisconsin loan because other entities involved in financial agreements his company has been working on "didn’t meet their end of the deal." Klapmeier told WPR his company also met with airport officials in Brunswick this summer. “We believe in the product. We believe in the industry. We believe in the people," he said. Klapmeier said his company is still exploring options on where to build the Kestrel.