SEBRING - Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam, an Italian manufacturer of light aircraft, announced Tuesday the Naples company will assemble planes at Sebring Regional Airport.
"We've been after them since 2005, and we finally got them," IDA-EDC Director Stephen Weeks said. "They announced it at Sun n' Fun."
That's the 40th annual international fly-in at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.
Weeks wasn't sure how many employees Tecnam would hire, but they will be higher-paying manufacturing and sales jobs.
"I don't know the details of that now," he said. "The logistics are still being worked out, but they will have assembly and sales there."
Like Cessna, Tecnam builds single-engine two-seaters and twin-engine four-seat aircraft.
One source reported that Tecnam currently assembles aluminum aircraft that follow and general aviation regulations.
Tecnam also makes aircraft parts for other manufacturers. The Tecnam 2008 was displayed at the 2010 U.S. Sport Aviation Expo at Sebring.
Wikipedia lists 10 Tecnam models, including the P92, P96 Golf, P2002 Sierra, P2004 Bravo, P2006T Very Light Twin, P2012 11-passenger Traveller for commuters, and the Multi Mission Aircraft.
"This is a global company. They do business all over the world," said Mike Willingham, Sebring airport executive director.
Even more important, he said, is the "clustering effect." When GM started building cars in Detroit, battery, transmission, tire and glass manufacturers moved in too.
Lockwood Aviation also builds planes at the Sebring airpark, and several other tenants have aviation-related businesses. Willingham said all should be helped by Tecnam's production.
"I think it is probably the most significant economic development opportunity in my career at the airport," Willingham said. "If things work as they plan, if they bring all of their assembly people, the clustering potential could be significant."
Although 10 jobs are initially planned, Willingham said that number could grow exponentially as Tecnam gears up to build all 10 models in Sebring.
"This will be their North American assembly center, and hopefully, in the not-too distant future, South America too."