Cirrus buys city building for $3.45 million

22 July 2023

DULUTH Cirrus Aircraft has purchased a building it has leased from the City of Duluth for the last two decades.

Cirrus purchased the 79,000-square-foot Incubator Building, sometimes called the Customer Building, at 4973 Airport Road, for $3.45 million, the city and company announced in a joint news release Friday.

“The purchase of the incubator building will allow us to expand production and meet the growing demands of our customers,” Zean Nielsen, Cirrus CEO, said in the release.

In April, the Duluth Economic Development Authority considered using the proceeds of the sale to fund the city-owned broadband system, ultimately passing a resolution that said proceeds from the property sale to Cirrus “may be” used to fund the city’s broadband internet project, “subject to council approval.”

But as of Friday, there is not yet a specific plan for the money.

“The intended use of the proceeds are undetermined at this time, but will go toward advancement of economic development in the city,” city spokesperson Kelli Latuska said in an email to the News Tribune.

According to a 2002 News Tribune article, a federal grant from the Economic Development Administration contributed $3.5 million toward the building’s construction. The city of Duluth issued bonds for another $3.1 million and retained ownership of the land while DEDA owned the structure. Cirrus, which contributed $2 million to the project, leased the building and its lease payments were used to pay off the city’s bonds.

The company has grown substantially since then, and in 2011, it was acquired by China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA), an offshoot of the government-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China.

Last year, the company saw annual billings of more than $765 million, behind the sale of 629 aircraft, including 90 personal jets, in addition to the company’s piston-driven airplanes.

Today, the company employs more than 1,300 people in Duluth.

“Cirrus Aircraft is a major force in our economy, and I am eager to see what they can do to advance aviation through this expansion,” Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said in the release. “The confidence of Cirrus to invest here is a signal of the abundant opportunity we offer as a City and region, and gets us one step closer to meeting my vision of being the best possible place to do business in the State of Minnesota.”

Last year, Cirrus bought the 189,000-square-foot former Northwest Airlines maintenance base from DEDA for $1.


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