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Mexico Manufacturing News & Blog

Icon Aircraft Opens Manufacturing Facility in Tijuana

Aircraft Company and Manufacturing Jobs Coming to Tijuana

A startup airplane manufacturer said this week it will open a facility in Tijuana that could create up to 1,000 manufacturing jobs.

Icon Aircraft, a Vacaville-based company, said it will use its new 300,000-square-foot factory to build components for its A5 aircraft, an amphibious sport plane. By selecting Tijuana, it raises the profile of a manufacturing sector that has seen steady growth.

"Tijuana has a skilled labor force, a lot of aerospace manufacturing and industrial-type technology,” said Icon spokesman Brian Manning about its reasons for the move. “And, frankly, the industrial infrastructure they have there.

Icon’s factory is scheduled to open in November, which the company said will not affect employment at its Vacaville location. Workers at the Tijuana plant will eventually do a variety of jobs including painting, systems installation, final assembly, testing and aircraft delivery.

icon aircraft tijuana openingThe A5 is two-seat plane that is designed for quick take offs and landings. Its wings fold, making it easy to be pulled by a truck on the road, and it can take off from the water. Other features include an airplane parachute, retractable landing gear, removable side windows, GPS moving map and an interface it advertises as easy to read.

Its top speed is 109 mph and the estimated base price is $189,000. The company markets it as an easier way to fly because it only requires sport pilot license, which requires a minimum of 20 hours of in-flight training and is half the cost of a traditional private pilot license.

The 10-year-old Icon announced in May it was slowing down its production from 175 planes a year to 20. It also laid off 150 California workers. The company said meeting its aggressive building schedule made it rethink its earlier plans.

We found good talent (In Vacaville) and we know that we’re going to find great talent in Mexico as well,” Manning said. “. . . We’re joining a lot of other reputable companies that are there.

In 2015, California’s Office of Business and Economic Development gave Icon a $2.5 million tax credit, with the stipulation it creates 225 jobs in the state in 2016. Manning said it did not receive government incentive from Mexico to open in Tijuana.

Icon is not disclosing how much it is spending in Tijuana, but predicts the operation will have a $150 million impact there over the next 10 years.

Maquiladoras, or assembly-for-export plants, in Tijuana produce a number of products for American companies, including textiles, medical devices, mannequins, and automobile and computer parts.
More than 158,000 jobs are tied to manufacturing in the city, said the Tijuana Economic Development Corp.
 
As business grows in Tijuana, demand for more industrial space increases. There are eight industrial buildings under construction, adding 749,889-square feet, said Colliers International. Tijuana added 1,456,635 square feet of industrial space from first quarter 2015 to first quarter 2016, Colliers said.

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune
By: Phillip Molnar

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