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Officials trying to lure NetJets to Orlando

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Officials trying to lure NetJets to Orlando

Old 11-02-2007, 06:18 PM
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Default Officials trying to lure NetJets to Orlando

Jason Garcia, David Damron and Mark Schlueb | Sentinel Staff Writers November 2, 2007 Economic-development officials from Orlando to Tallahassee are quietly crafting a major public-incentive package to lure NetJets Inc., an aviation company controlled by billionaire investor Warren Buffett that sells stakes in private jets around the world.

More than a half-dozen local and state officials confirmed this week that talks -- dubbed "Project Horizon" -- are under way to bring a large company to Orlando, though none would discuss them publicly, citing confidentiality agreements.

But four sources familiar with the discussions said the company Orlando is targeting is NetJets, which is based in Woodbridge, N.J., but has much of its operations and 1,500 full-time employees in Columbus, Ohio, according to city of Columbus documents.
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Old 11-02-2007, 06:57 PM
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Hopefully Columbus, OH would remain the main Base of operations. I'm waiting to finish out a USAF commitment and am counting on this company so that I can live in Columbus. Anyone else know anything about how this would change the structure of the company?
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Old 11-03-2007, 04:25 AM
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Originally Posted by BrutusBuckeye View Post
Hopefully Columbus, OH would remain the main Base of operations. I'm waiting to finish out a USAF commitment and am counting on this company so that I can live in Columbus. Anyone else know anything about how this would change the structure of the company?
Found this article, Raleigh and Dallas are also in the running to be the Netjets headquarter address, or at least be the center-point for growth.

Private company to expand outside Columbus
Saturday, November 3, 2007 3:37 AM
By Marla Matzer Rose

NetJets, the country's largest private-jet firm, is planning to expand and Columbus is only one of several cities courting the Warren Buffett-controlled company.

According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel yesterday, Orlando is competing with Raleigh, N.C., and Fort Worth, Texas, to land NetJets' expanding operations.
The report said attracting NetJets could create as many as 2,000 jobs, raising questions about whether other states also are trying to lure away some of the 1,500 jobs the company maintains at its operational headquarters in Columbus, which includes offices at both Port Columbus and Easton.
A spokeswoman for NetJets, which pioneered a fractional-ownership concept that works much like a time share, confirmed that the company is looking outside Columbus for possible expansion.
"As NetJets' business continues to grow and as we expand and add more employees and more aircraft, we also must add new infrastructure to maintain the highest standards of service and safety," read the statement released by spokeswoman Maryann Aarseth. "We are looking at adding new buildings in Columbus and perhaps outside the Columbus area as well."
NetJets built an 825,000-square-foot facility at Port Columbus in 1999. It leases land and some hangar space from the Columbus Regional Airport Authority.
David Whitaker, vice president of business development for the airport authority, said NetJets' lease runs through 2019. Its agreement also includes an option to lease additional land at Port Columbus.
Whitaker and representatives of the city and state economic development offices said they were aware of discussions with NetJets, but declined to comment further.
At its monthly meeting on Tuesday, the airport board held a closed-door session to discuss the "possible expansion" of an existing aviation tenant. Whitaker would not say whether NetJets was the topic of discussion.
Melissa Ament, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Development, said her office has "been in touch with NetJets" about the matter. She said she could give no other information on the nature and timing of the discussions.
"Job retention is an ongoing effort, and we are talking to them," said Michael Stevens, assistant development director for the city of Columbus. Stevens said his understanding of NetJets' search was consistent with the company's statement that it wasn't looking to leave Columbus.
The Sentinel said a host of public entities, coming together
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Old 11-03-2007, 04:43 AM
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Originally Posted by BrutusBuckeye View Post
Hopefully Columbus, OH would remain the main Base of operations. I'm waiting to finish out a USAF commitment and am counting on this company so that I can live in Columbus. Anyone else know anything about how this would change the structure of the company?
As long as the new agreement passes there will be 100 bases, Columbus one of them. That would be effective until 2013. With the large number of flight crew based in CMH, I highly doubt the company would ever close it as a base....at least in the near future.
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Old 11-04-2007, 11:20 AM
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Some pilots don't realize how much NJA is growing. I personally see Orlando being a second base of operations, not a replacement to CMH. Hopefully, one of many additions to come.
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Old 11-05-2007, 06:42 PM
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Columbus isn't going anywhere. It's just that another city is being considered for the possible expansion plans.

And like Captscott said, even if Netjets shut down all operations at CMH, it would have no affect on the pilots based here (except maybe instructors and management guys) since, for the purposes of being a line pilot, CMH is nothing more than one of the 100 cities on the new crew base list.
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Old 12-14-2007, 04:33 PM
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(Interesting article on a columbus newspaper.)


NetJets, one of the sexiest businesses in town, suddenly feels unappreciated. Now it’s looking for love in Raleigh and Orlando.
by dan williamson / December 13, 2007

Ben French
“They want to be embraced”: The NetJets facility at Port Columbus

NetJets Aviation is a lot like the baseball player Alex Rodriguez. As you sit on the other side of the negotiating table, it seems so self-absorbed and greedy that its threats to bolt for another city tempt you to say, “Good riddance.”

On the other hand, it puts up great numbers. So you end up gritting your teeth and forking over whatever it wants.

State and city officials are doing just that, scrambling to put together a deal that will persuade one of Columbus’s most glamorous companies to maintain and expand its permanent home here.

“Of all the companies to have in Columbus, NetJets is a pretty good one,” said Bob Milbourne, president of the Columbus Partnership.

But he and others familiar with the negotiations are worried they’ve already lost it.

Currently owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate, NetJets is an international company with a clever business model: It allows rich people to avoid the hassles of commercial air travel without the expense or responsibilities of owning their own planes outright.

Through its headquarters on Hamilton Road next to Port Columbus, NetJets allows people to purchase stakes in private airplanes so they can have them more or less at their disposal. The company employs about 1,500 people at its Columbus headquarters and is growing.

Earlier this year, NetJets declared itself unsatisfied with its current conditions and is listening to other suitors, namely Raleigh, N.C., and Orlando, Fla.

Word on the street is that city officials, as much as they’d hate to lose the company, wouldn’t miss the people who represent it. Some sources say Columbus’s negotiators have found their counterparts at NetJets to be insulting and difficult to work with.

NetJets, meanwhile, feels unappreciated and would simply like its home city to show it the kind of affection with which Raleigh and Orlando have showered it.

“They want to be embraced,” said Milbourne, whose organization, the Columbus Partnership, is composed of the city’s most powerful business and civic leaders. “For whatever reason, NetJets
hasn’t really felt like Columbus has embraced them, loved them, as a major employer in the community.”

A team headed by Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher plans to make a presentation to NetJets corporate leadership Monday and expects a decision sometime next month.

“I’m feeling very good about it,” Fisher said this week. “The discussions have been very positive.”

However, Milbourne said he thinks it could go either way.

“It’s going to be a close call,” Milbourne said. Raleigh, in particular, is likely to provide stiff competition for Columbus, Milbourne said.

“We’ve got a package that’s been put together, and it’s about as good a package as Ohio and Columbus can put together,” he said. “The question is, is it as good as what North Carolina can put together?”

Milbourne said NetJets has been aggressive in its demands.

“That would be fair to say. On the other hand, North Carolina and Florida have been aggressive in making an offer that they would like Columbus to meet,” he said. “I’m sure they would interpret that as, ‘Why wouldn’t the city we’re currently in be as competitive with their offer as a city that we might go to?’”

NetJets has three tangible requests, Milbourne said.

The first is a relationship with Ohio State University that would allow the company access to a steady stream of college-educated potential employees.

The second is the ability to build a major corporate headquarters on International Drive near the runway—a request that could be complicated by a nearby radar station.

The third is an economic incentives package, including “training money, workforce development money, internship programs,” Milbourne said. “They want us to offer up everything that we know how to offer up, and we’re trying to do that.”

And then there’s the love thing. “When you go to North Carolina and you say, ‘Well, we might move our whole company to your location,’ I’m sure the reaction is, ‘We will love you to death,’” Milbourne said.

“They compare that to the way, for whatever reason, they feel they have been treated in Columbus. They say, ‘No one has ever really treated us as a major employer in Columbus, and people have kind of taken us for granted,’ and that’s kind of a natural reaction that I can understand.”

How did the NetJets-Columbus relationship get to this point?

The lieutenant governor said he’s unsure. Fisher, who is also Ohio’s development director, said he learned in late October that the company was giving “serious consideration to relocating and looking at other states,” and he immediately arranged a meeting.

“At that meeting, I did become aware of the fact that there had been some discussions prior to that with the chamber of commerce and the city of Columbus,” Fisher said.

“I did not sense any unhappiness. It was really that they felt that other states had been very responsive, and they wanted to make it clear that they really were in a situation where they had to look at all their alternatives. But they never expressed to me that they were unhappy with the city or the chamber. It’s possible that they’ve said that to others.”

Sources say NetJets officials have told people they were virtually ignored when they approached the city and Columbus Chamber in March about improving their facilities. So in July, NetJets CEO Richard Santulli determined his company wasn’t valued here and would look elsewhere.

Columbus officials, on the other hand, have privately told people they’ve been responsive to NetJets. However, they think they’re being jerked around by an arrogant negotiating team led by David Powell, a former Columbus Chamber executive. Powell initially represented NetJets on behalf of Schottenstein Zox & Dunn before joining the company full time.

Powell declined to speak publicly about his role in the negotiations.

“I’ve been involved with a project,” he said last week, “but it’s nothing that I’m going to talk to you about.” He referred questions to NetJets’ communications office, which responded by referring to a Nov. 2 statement released in response to a story about the negotiations in the Orlando Sentinel.

“As NetJets business continues to grow and as we expand and add more employees and more aircraft we also must add new infrastructure to maintain the highest standards of service and safety,” the statement said. “We are looking at adding new buildings in Columbus and perhaps outside the Columbus area as well.”

Columbus Chamber President Ty Marsh wouldn’t comment on the NetJets situation. Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman’s office declined to characterize the negotiations other than to say the city is doing all it can.

Mike Reese, Coleman’s chief of staff, said the mayor has been “very aggressive” in his efforts to keep NetJets. Reese said he’s unsure when NetJets first contacted the city but that negotiations have heated up considerably.

“The last three months it’s been very, very intense, so to speak, but I’m sure it started well before,” Reese said.

Asked if Columbus could have done more to make NetJets feel loved, Reese said, “I don’t think that’s our role. I think our role is to go after them as hard as we can.”

He added, “The mayor is fighting for jobs here, like he always does, and NetJets, if they weren’t important, then we wouldn’t be fighting as hard as we are.”

NetJets evolved from a company called Executive Jet Aviation, which began in Columbus as the world’s first business-jet charter operation in 1964. It was founded by Dick Lassiter, an Air Force buddy of the late Paul Tibbets, the famed pilot of the Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Tibbets, who died last month, joined the company in 1966 and became its president and CEO in 1975.

When Tibbets retired in 1986, he handed the company off to Santulli, a New York investment banker who brought with him the fractional-ownership formula, which was called Nationwide Efficient Transportation, or N.E.T. Jet Systems.

The business—which eventually became known as NetJets—continued to flourish through 1998, when Warren Buffett’s company bought it. The NetJets business model became even more attractive after the terrorist attacks of 2001, which led to new hassles for air passengers.

Now that commercial air travel is commonly associated with canceled flights and long waits on the runway, Santulli looks like more of a genius than ever. And his product has celebrity heat to spare. NetJets ad campaigns have featured endorsements from Tiger Woods and Buffett’s pal Bill Gates.

So, as Fisher put it, NetJets is “clearly a treasure for Central Ohio.”

“I had a deeper appreciation for the value of NetJets after going through their facility,” he said. “I was blown away by the operations. I couldn’t have been more impressed.”

Milbourne said he has traveled on the company’s planes before and pronounced them “fabulous,” adding, “It’s a pretty convenient way to travel.”

The NetJets folks will appreciate that compliment, but will it be enough?

The state and the city are putting together what they believe is a generous offer, but they know Raleigh and Orlando are doing the same.

“North Carolina is pretty good at this stuff,” Milbourne said. “We don’t know what they’ve offered, but we know that it’s pretty good.”

One example is that North Carolina is promising NetJets strong relationships with the three major universities in the Raleigh area: North Carolina State, UNC and Duke.

“One of the things I keep hearing is they don’t feel that they have the same sort of relationship with OSU as what these three universities are offering them in North Carolina,” Milbourne said. “We are working hard to get an OSU relationship and proposal that will be compelling to them.”

And if it’s not?

“If they’re not in Columbus a year or two from now, we’re not just going to sulk about it,” said Reese. “We’re going to go after the next company.”
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Old 12-14-2007, 05:01 PM
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We were told, while at the HQ, that NJA needs more facilities, and they would be opening another facility elsewhere, possibly Orlando. They said that CMH wouldn't close.

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Old 12-14-2007, 06:50 PM
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After all the money that the state, the city, and the CMH port authority threw at SKYBUS, you better believe that Netjets isn't feeling the love right now. NJ has a thousand times more economic impact on the city of Columbus than SKYBUS does right now. Obviously another reason NJA has entertained other offers is to enhance their negotiating position with Columbus. They need to have the ability to walk away if Columbus starts dicking around. It can't just be an empty threat.

One big problem with the CMH location right now is the CMH airport radar. It is placed in an area such that nothing can be developed on the north side of the airport where NJ's current building sits. Nothing taller than a parking lot can be built in that area. NJ actually had to modify the design of it's current building in order to accommodate the radar signature.

NJ wants to build one giant campus on an airport location so that ALL NJ Columbus employees are in the same spot. Right now they are scattered at 3 different locations throughout Columbus, two of which aren't even within earshot of the airport. Possibly build a hotel within the campus. Plus FlightSafety wants to build a new building as well, preferably within that NJ campus. So as you can see, NJ needs a lot of space and right now Columbus has little of it to offer (pending their proposal). Meanwhile, RDU and MCO have empty space for miles and miles. The line about the link with Ohio St is just stupid. You mean to tell me that RDU doesn't have any college-educated potential employees nearby.

But at the end of the day, I highly doubt NJ is going anywhere. It's a pain to move and I have no doubt that Columbus will pony up the bucks.

For most (no, I didn't say all) pilots at NJ, this move has no affect on us anyway, except that it would be a hell of a lot nicer to attend company recurrent in RDU or MCO during the winter time.

I vote for RDU.
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Old 12-17-2007, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by correcting View Post

I vote for RDU.
Me too. I have been thinking about moving the family to RDU and changing careers in a few years...NJ would pretty much be my long term dream. Plus I can work from anywhere in my current job while I build time, and I am getting tired of the constant snowblowing up here in the northeast.
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