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City in early talks with aviation company to fund expansion

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
File photo from September 2016 of C&L Aviation CEO Chris Kilgour at the company's hub in Bangor. Gabor Degre | BDN
By Alex Acquisto, BDN Staff

Bangor is considering paying $2 million to help a private company expand its facility at the city-run airport.

C&L Aviation Group CEO Chris Kilgour met with the city council’s business and economic development committee on Tuesday, Feb. 6, to discuss building 10,000-12,000 square feet of additional space, overhauling one of the four airplane hangars and renovating bathrooms in two of the hangars. A formal proposal has not yet been submitted.

The aerospace company could pay for the expansion over time by extending its lease and increasing its monthly rent with the city, Kilgour told city officials.

The added footprint would be used for office space and the company’s component repair shop, both of which are “bursting at the seams,” because of the lack of space, Kilgour told council members at the meeting. The rough estimate for the cost of the project is around $2 million, he said.

“At the moment, we have more business we can cope with,” Kilgour said.

C&L has expanded twice during its almost decade-long life in Bangor, with the help of city funds and millions in federal grants.

It would benefit the city to fund the expansion itself so it can retain ownership of those buildings, Community and Economic Development Director Tanya Emery said.

“While many airports may allow private development (aeronautical or non-aeronautical), most airports prefer to own buildings and facilities on their property, particularly property directly on the airfield,” Emery said.

Kilgour relocated his company — which overhauls and sells aircraft — from Australia to Bangor in 2010. It sits on city property next to the Bangor International Airport. Kilgour said he is at capacity in the current building, and if an addition isn’t built, he will be forced to build it elsewhere.

“If it’s the limit of building I’ve got, I’ve got to go and grow somewhere else,” he said. Kilgour made a similar statement last summer when he proposed that the city help fund a $2 million mechanic school to help supplement the fact that the company was struggling to find skilled mechanics.

The school proposal never got off the ground, but Kilgour repeated Tuesday that the same challenge continues to persist. “One of the things that is hindering our growth, aside from space, is being able to find qualified people,” he said.

If the city agrees to fund the expansion, money would be pulled from municipal airport accounts. If there isn’t enough to draw from for the multi-million dollar project, putting out a bond to make up for the remaining funds isn’t out of the question, City Council Chairman Ben Sprague said.

In almost eight years, C&L in Bangor has grown from 20 employees, to close to 200, Kilgour said, adding that the expansion could bring an another 50 to 75 more jobs.

“Obviously we want good jobs in the community. There’s a value added for the airport as well, to have a full service and maintenance shop,” Sprague said.

C&L’s $27,300-a-month lease with the city expires in 2027. The company has the option to extend the lease for an additional seven years.

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