Cirrus Aircraft launches Duluth expansion plan

Tax assistance could help Duluth's largest manufacturer ramp up production.

Cirrus Aircraft's G2 Vision Jet.
Cirrus Aircraft has a lengthy waiting list of customers eager to own its Vision Jet.
Contributed / Cirrus Aircraft

DULUTH — Cirrus Aircraft aims to grow its operations, and the company is looking to the city and St. Louis County for a bit of help, in the form of a $1.2 million tax abatement package.

Both the city and county will be asked to forgo $600,000 in tax revenues over the next 10 years as Cirrus seeks to ramp up production, with the goal of tripling its output within the same decade, according to a county document.

The growth is expected to result in the creation of at least 80 additional jobs, bringing the company’s local workforce to more than 1,286, according to Chris Fleege, director of Duluth’s planning and economic development division. Cirrus already is Duluth’s largest manufacturer.

To accommodate its rapid expansion, Cirrus will be moving into an existing maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility formerly occupied by AAR Corp. and originally built to service Northwest Airlines aircraft. AAR left Duluth in May 2020 , as the airline industry dealt with the rapid loss of business that accompanied the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the MRO facility has sat mostly vacant since that time.

Four Air Canada Airbus A319 aircraft fill the hangar at the AAR facility in Duluth in 2015. AAR was celebrating its 200th aircraft delivery since starting operations in Duluth.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

Cirrus plans to lease the MRO building initially with an option to own, but Fleege suspects the company intends to stay for the long haul, as it proposes to invest $3.6 million in the facility.


The company also is looking to purchase an incubator building it already occupies for $3.4 million with eventual plans to expand the Cirrus campus southward at a cost of $25 to $30 million.

To assist with Cirrus’ growth, the city of Duluth also will be asked to support the company’s applications for $1 million from the Minnesota Investment Fund and $1.5 million from the Minnesota Job Creation Fund.

Cirrus plane
Cirrus Aircraft leads the industry in sales of single-engine general aviation airplanes.
Contributed / Cirrus Aircraft

The St. Louis County Board has scheduled a Feb. 8 public hearing on the proposal to provide Cirrus with $600,000 in property tax relief.

Fleege expects a similar tax abatement request and the grant application resolutions to go to the Duluth City Council on Feb. 14.

He said the city also is working with the Minnesota Workforce Center, Lake Superior College and the University of Minnesota Duluth to help supply Cirrus with the workers it will need to grow.

“It’s a challenge we face. But it’s an exciting problem to have,” Fleege said.

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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