Cirrus Aircraft Expands Duluth Headquarters – Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — The 16,000 square foot expansion of the Duluth Cirrus paint and finish facility became fully operational Friday, July 15, bringing the entire center to 86,000 square feet.

The additional space will allow for a 35% increase in aircraft spraying capacity. The facility is dedicated to finishing the final stages of the manufacturing process. After assembly, Cirrus aircraft come to Duluth for custom touches. The modernized facility will help reduce Cirrus’ cost structure and improve efficiency, according to Patrick Waddick, president of innovation and operations at Cirrus Aircraft.

Waddick spoke with community members and business leaders who gathered to celebrate the milestone with a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday. Attendees had the opportunity to tour Cirrus’ state-of-the-art painting and finishing facility.

As its best-selling SR Series and Vision Jet grow in popularity, the company continues to grow. There are currently over 9,000 Cirrus aircraft worldwide.

“Our mission is extremely important, and that is to provide an easily accessible personal aviation experience. It’s the pinnacle of innovation, quality and safety for our customers,” Waddick said.

Cirrus has six locations across the country, including Duluth, Minnesota; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Knoxville, TN; Greater Dallas, TX; Greater Phoenix, Arizona; and Greater Orlando, Florida.

“We are proud to expand the Cirrus paint and finish facility at our Duluth headquarters,” Cirrus Aircraft General Manager Zean Nielsen said in a press release. “These investments allow us to both meet growing demand for our advanced aircraft and create additional jobs in our local communities.”

Cirrus currently employs 130 people at its Duluth campus and plans to add 50 high-tech and skilled positions to its team following recent expansion.

Waddick said, “These investments are not only translating into real results for Cirrus, but also for the community. Fifty or more new jobs; these new jobs not only allow us to build more planes here and welcome new people to the Cirrus family. They also generate investment from our local partners. When we grow, they grow, and it’s good for Duluth, it’s good for the state of Minnesota.

“It really heralds a bright future for Duluth with companies like Cirrus at the center of the airline cluster industry,” said Chris Fleege, executive director of the Duluth Economic Development Authority and director of planning and economic development. “It was a good public-private partnership. We hope they can continue to grow here in Duluth. The air cluster is made up of businesses that support Cirrus in Duluth, such as avionics, parachutes, assembly composite materials and engines, metal stamping, manufacturing, in addition to the natural gas and other consumables it uses to operate.The entire aviation industry attracts employees from across the iron chain.

The authority is on a mission to drive economic prosperity in the city of Duluth and also works on broader workforce housing and child care issues that can impact growing businesses such than Cirrus. The City of Duluth has also partnered with Cirrus in advocating at the state level to resolve any tax, labor and housing issues.

DEDA has been instrumental in helping Cirrus navigate the expansion process, Fleege said. He provided assistance in the permitting process by engaging Barr for additional engineering and environmental consulting services, and helped Cirrus apply for the Job Creation and Employment Investment Funds and economic development in Minnesota.

The airport is owned exclusively by the City of Duluth. The majority of real estate leases are paid to the Duluth Airport Authority or the city for a few locations. The one exception is the Duluth MRO facility on the North Side, where DEDA is the tenant, subletting to tenants like Cirrus and Lake Superior Helicopter.

Cirrus currently subleases the north side of the Duluth MRO facility to DEDA. The lease agreement with Cirrus alleviates the authority’s costs of $57,000 per month to run the building’s utilities, Fleege said. DEDA is also working to relocate its sublease tenant, Lake Superior Helicopter, Fleege added.

The space previously occupied by AAR Corp. was released in July 2020 due to the unforeseen business circumstances of COVID-19 and its impact on the commercial airline industry. According to Waddick, Cirrus plans to purchase the AAR building on the north side of the airport facility in the near future. It plans to make major investments there to create a new innovation center to enable Cirrus to invent new aircraft.

“For 30 years we have had our headquarters in Duluth with further investment projects here, not only in our facilities but also in our people,” Waddick said. “There is a ripple effect and a multiplier effect that will spread new innovation and growth between our partners and into the community.”

Before cutting the ribbon, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said, “A business like this is important. One thing I think we should talk about more is the incredible impact Cirrus has on the world. They won a prize that surpassed NASA. They won an award which is actually in the Smithsonian. These are incredible testimonies of hard work, vision, investment and continued commitment to absolute innovation and excellence. We are really proud to be here today. Cirrus continues to be an extremely strong partner with the City of Duluth, so we are delighted. We step up to this company every time, all the time because you stand up for us, and that really means a lot to us.

People take a closer look at the new aircraft paint and finish facility expansion at Cirrus Aircraft during a grand opening ceremony Friday morning July 15, 2022 in Duluth.

Jed Carlson / Upper Telegram

Patrick Waddick, President of Innovation and Operations at Cirrus Aircraft, addresses the crowd
Patrick Waddick, President of Innovation and Operations at Cirrus Aircraft, addresses the crowd at the grand opening of the expanded paint and finish facility at Cirrus Friday morning July 15, 2022 in Duluth.

Jed Carlson / Upper Telegram

People mingle ahead of the grand opening ceremony for the paint and finish facility expansion at Cirrus Aircraft
People mingle before the grand opening of the paint and finish facility expansion at Cirrus Aircraft on Friday morning July 15, 2022 in Duluth.

Jed Carlson / Upper Telegram

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