New Owners: Steven Hendrickson, right, director of state and local government relations for Boeing, discusses handing over the deed and keys of the former Boeing facility to Melbourne Mayor Mike Cone and Task Force for Economic Development member Karla Rush April 28. Photo/Kim Whitten
The former Boeing plant in Melbourne has a new owner, or to be more precise, 1,562 new owners.
Ownership of the plant officially changed when Boeing Director of State and Local Government Relations Steven Hendrickson handed the keys and the deed of the plant to Melbourne Mayor Mike Cone at the Izard County Clerk's Office April 28. With that, the city of Melbourne now owns the former Boeing plant.
Hendrickson told Cone he wishes things could have gone better with the plant. "Melbourne employees have always been outstanding," he said. All 108 employees of the Melbourne facility were offered jobs elsewhere with Boeing. "Some went, some stayed," he said.
"We sent out a facility description and assessment to employers," Hendrickson said, adding that the information has been sent out to approximately 11,000 vendors.
"I've never seen a major company be so thorough," Cone said.
"It's mostly folks who provide machine parts and small assembly," Hendrickson said about the vendors. He said the vendors are mostly companies that are suppliers of parts to Boeing.
Boeing is not the only one that has been trying to find a new company to move into the facility.
Cone said he would be going to Little Rock May 2 to speak to members of the Arkansas Department of Economic Development. "They work with us as far as contacts and putting the building on their Web site and promoting it," he said.
Entergy will also be in Little Rock to discuss the plant, Task Force for Economic Development Chairman Randy Zook said. "Entergy has a group of people dedicated to helping communities like Melbourne marketing themselves," he said. He said Entergy has a financial interest in finding a new electric customer to fill the plant.
Cone formed the Task Force for Economic Development in February to actively seek a replacement for Boeing. The task force works at the local level and is made up of members of the community.
Task force chairman Randy Zook said the task force has been working with people who do site selection for corporations around the country as well as working with the ADED and Boeing. "We're defining prospects and people who can take advantage of this opportunity," Zook said.
The city has also been working with North Central Arkansas Regional Economic Development in promoting the plant. NCARED is an organization made up of political and business leaders from seven counties in the region. Their goal is to bring employers into the region and keep those employers as well as maintain a stable tax base.
"The employees have an outstanding work ethic. They've always stood out," Cone said about the workforce in Melbourne.
"We have a set of people with a lot of particular skills around metal working," Zook said about Melbourne workers. He added the skill is hard to find in some areas.
"Ozarka will be critical in how we market the community. Ozarka can do tailor-made training programs for any new business. A lot of community colleges are doing training," Zook said.
"I'm comfortable that we'll be able to get something in here," Cone said.
Cone said no taxes will be paid on the plant as long as the city owns it, since the city is exempt. According to the Izard County Tax Collector's Office, Boeing paid $23,547 in property taxes for the building and $43,156.22 in personal taxes. McDonnell-Douglas paid $8,060.99 in personal taxes.
The Boeing facility in Melbourne closed April 13.
The plant opened its doors in Melbourne as Douglas Aircraft in the 1960s.
Boeing officials announced its closing in February. Boeing said the plant was unnecessary to Boeing's current manufacturing.
The Melbourne facility served as a repair station for Boeing doors and flight control. It provided maintenance, repair and overhaul services.
Boeing transferred the remaining work from the Melbourne facility to its operations in Salt Lake City.