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Regent Aerospace Opening Alabama Plant

Mon, 03/01/2010 - 3:21am

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Regent Aerospace says it will open a new plant in Mobile that will create as many as 90 jobs in two years and hopes to build a new facility that will raise employment to 180 in a second phase.

The Valencia, Calif.-based company overhauls aircraft seats and interiors. Jobs at the plant will pay an average of $24,000 a year, according to information submitted to the Mobile city Industrial Development Board.

Regent has rented a former DHL building in Mobile's Brookley Field Industrial Complex and plans to begin operations by May. The building is near ST Aerospace Mobile, which overhauls commercial jets.

Mike Lilley, vice president and general manger of Regent, said seats come off jets while ST Aerospace is working on them. Instead of trucking seats to Regent's Indianapolis facility, now the firm will be next door.

"Having a specialized interior company is very synergistic with what they're doing," Lilley said. "It will attract more airlines to want to do business in Mobile."

The firm also manufactures seat parts, seatback electronics, life vests and life rafts at plants in Indiana, Texas, California and South Korea. It has overhaul bases at several large airports and a facility in China.

Regent is privately owned by its president, Reza Soltanian, and his family, Lilley said. The company plans to invest $250,000 initially.

The Industrial Development Board voted unanimously to waive sales taxes on construction and non-school property taxes for five years. The tax breaks will save Regent an estimated $15,600.

The firm plans to expand to a larger facility at Brookley after the first two years, raising employment as high as 180 and spending $2 million to $5 million, according to Lilley and documents.

"They hold a lot of promise," said Troy Wayman, vice president of economic development for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. "I hope they will be coming back before the board in the next two years with some construction at Brookley."

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