Economic Development Group to Manage Ascent Hangar Funds | Local News

The Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. will act as a “professional brokerage firm” to transfer funds between the City of Roswell and Ascent Aviation Services as the company constructs a hangar at Roswell Air Center.

In exchange for its work, EDC will receive $146,000, or 1% of the $14.6 million in government funding used for the project.

Roswell City Council voted 10 to 0 Thursday night to approve the one-year project service agreement with EDC.

The group also voted unanimously on a related issue, an interim lease in which EDC will lease the city’s 10.65 acres of property at West Earl Cummings Loop and Mathis Street at Roswell Air Center until the construction of the shed is completed. Once completed, the lease will be between the city and STORE Capital, a financing group working with Ascent Aviation.

Ascent Aviation Services LLC, an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operation with facilities near Tucson International Airport and at Pinal Park in Marana, Arizona, announced in September 2020 that it would extend to Roswell under an agreement involving private investment. , state funding, city loans, and capital expenditure funds provided by both the City of Roswell and Chaves County.

David Querio, president of Ascent Aviation, said he plans to hire about 100 aircraft maintenance workers and employees once local operations begin and have about 360 employees within five years. He said Thursday that 25 employees are already there.

He also said he expects the large hangar and initial MRO works to be the first phase of operations. After five years, the company intends to expand its services to include the conversion of commercial aircraft into freighter or freighter aircraft. Another large hangar would be part of a later phase.

The city’s decision came after it twice proposed the “horizontal” works – or foundation, utility and other works – for the project and came up with estimates well above the $14.6 million that consultants Roswell Air Center engineering listed as cost. The first bid was for $20.9 million. The low of the second round of offers was $18.7 million.

“From there, we actually worked our way back up to the start of the conversation with the company where the company itself will handle the horizontal and the vertical,” City Manager Joe Neeb said. “And to do that, we have to go through the EDC in order to accomplish that based on the mechanics of the project.”

Neeb said Ascent Aviation has agreed to cover any cost overruns over $14.6 million for horizontal work. It will also select and manage all contractors.

If the city handles the bidding, public procurement laws govern the process and, in most cases, will require a public, competitive bidding process. As an economic development project, however, sole source submissions are permitted.

Querio told city councilors the company had already invested heavily in the Roswell project and could not afford horizontal work to exceed $14.6 million.

The company is responsible for the vertical works, or the hangar itself, and works with RUBB Building Systems to supply and erect the fabric and metal widebody hangar.

“We are as invested as we have been from day one,” he said. “Our total ticket price – excluding any overrun of $14.6 – we are investing $16.8 million in this project. That $14.6 million started under $10 million before COVID started ramping up. If I have to pay $18.8 million, this project is not economically viable for Ascent Aviation and we will stop it.

Jim Mitchell, owner of J&H Services Inc. and several other construction-related businesses in Chaves County and New Mexico, expressed concern over the situation.

He says he supports the project and wants to see the jobs in town, especially because he is developing a large residential development. But he was the lowest bidder in the second round of bidding and is worried about how the cost can be drastically reduced unless the project is changed or potential future contractors don’t have to respond. to the same requirements as him and the other bidders.

“If you’re going to cut $4 million off my number, you’re not going to build what I was going to build,” Mitchell said. “There’s no way. You might get some money out of it. A different entrepreneur with a different approach can save some money. Four million dollars? That’s not possible.”

Neeb read the provisions of the city’s agreement with EDC stating that all federal and state laws and regulations must be followed, which specifically mentioned worker pay. He added that the state’s Construction Industries Division and the Roswell Air Center will ensure it is built to the necessary standards.

EDC President Mike Espiritu noted after the meeting that EDC will not select contractors and that the city has committed a maximum of $14.6 million for horizontal work.

“I can’t say why contractors can do it,” Espiritu said, “But Ascent Aviation, the company, says they can do it for that. And it’s their responsibility to do it.

The Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. entered into a similar agreement with the city for the construction of a Roswell Air Center structure for use by Red Mountain Arsenal, an ammunition manufacturer. In this situation, EDC effectively acted as the construction manager and received 3% of the construction costs as fees.

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