Business jet company to bring up to 600 jobs to Catawba Valley - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Business jet company to bring up to 600 jobs to Catawba Valley

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HICKORY, NC (WBTV) -

The Catawba Valley is now home to the first single engine business jet in the world, and a new manufacturing opportunity could bring up to 600 jobs to the area.

"People in this community have become very excited as they're learned about the details of this," said Jim Rice, chairman and CEO of VisionAire Jets.

Rice, who is from North Carolina, chose the Catawba Valley for his business venture.  For several years, he's been working on a light-weight, fuel efficient business jet that runs on a single engine.  The jet is now on display at the Hickory Airport, where VisionAire has been holding receptions to get the word out about the company.

Rice left the Catawba Valley for St. Louis in 1981, when the unemployment rate was less than one percent.  When he moved back at the height of the recent recession, it was up to fifteen percent.

"I realized this company that I'd been involved in and started could build this airplane here in Catawba Valley and create jobs," said Rice.

VisionAire Jets is expected to create 600 jobs over five years, and according to Rice, Catawba Valley workers will make a perfect fit.  That's because the plane is composed of carbon fiber materials, which former textile workers already have experience handling.

"They can do a tremendous job on this airplane. No question," said Rice.

VisionAire is in the process of securing space for a manufacturing plant. For more information on VisionAire, click here.

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