Company reverses plans to build helicopters in Louisiana
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — The Italian owners of a Switzerland-based helicopter company have backed out of plans to build a new model in south Louisiana, and the state is again looking for a new tenant.
Leonardo SpA is buying out Kopter Group AG’s lease in Lafayette and now plans to build the single-engine helicopters in Philadelphia, where Leonardo Helicopters US is based, news outlets reported.
Leonardo, of Rome, bought Kopter in 2020, the year after the company based in Wetzikon, Switzerland, announced plans to use a manufacturing plant in Lafayette. The facility was built by Bell Helicopters, but Louisiana leaders said Bell failed to meet hiring goals and ended the agreement in 2019.
The Lafayette Economic Development Authority and state have been marketing the facility to potential clients, and the agency was planning to continue doing so at a trade show this week in Dallas, president and CEO Mandi Mitchell said.
Termination documents filed in late September show Leonardo was to pay $760,000 owed on the lease and $15,672 for repairs, The Advocate reported.
Bell built the $25 million plant with state money, and Leonardo said Kopter has maintained it since 2019, the Daily Advertiser reported.