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HondaJet breaks ground on $15.5 million expansion at PTI

Honda Aircraft Co. will be able to get its jets to customers more quickly, thanks to a $15.5 million expansion that the company will build soon.

Gov. Roy Cooper and a variety of business and political leaders joined Honda CEO Michimasa Fujino near a vast field that will be the site of the 82,000-square-foot building the company will add to its campus at Piedmont Triad International Airport. 
The company said the new building will bring its investment at the airport to $245 million. Although no new employees will be added to the roughly 1,500 already working at PTI, the facility will allow Honda to expand production of its light business jet — $5.2 million will get you the top-end model — from four planes to five per month. 

Cooper, who participated in a groundbreaking ceremony, said the expansion also enhances North Carolina's reputation as a center for aviation manufacturing. He added that the state has the second-fastest growing aerospace business cluster in the nation with 200 aerospace companies and 400 suppliers. 

Honda is a major part of that, Cooper said. 

"They have to know that ... we can supply them with the first-rate, first-class workforce that they need to do the job," Cooper said. 

Kevin Baker, PTI's executive director, said Honda Aircraft's expansion will help the company have more control over the manufacturing of the HondaJet, which seats seven (including pilot), has a top speed of 486 mph and a range of over 1,400 miles.

Baker was a senior airport staffer when Honda announced it was interested in setting up its headquarters at PTI in late 2006. He remembers his boss asked him to come up with a way the company could build on airport property. At the time, he had just moved into a new house. 

"I sit down on the hardwood floors that had no furniture on them whatsoever with maps of this area right here and started drawing what this might actually look like," Baker recalled. "To me, it’s an absolutely surreal thing to be standing here with all of these assets that Honda has put in place."

Fujino told attendees Tuesday morning that there are now 130 HondaJets in service worldwide, from Southeast Asia to Europe — all made in Greensboro. 

"I am often asked why I chose Greensboro for Honda Aircraft Co.’s headquarters," he said. "In North Carolina, I saw great opportunity for growth and recognized the community as a place where employees could live a balanced and active life."


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