Cleveland businessman and entrepreneur Allan Jones was praised by state and Chattanooga officials Monday for his involvement in the recruitment of a major airplane service company to the Scenic …
Cleveland businessman and entrepreneur Allan Jones was praised by state and Chattanooga officials Monday for his involvement in the recruitment of a major airplane service company to the Scenic City.
West Star Aviation announced Monday morning at the Tennessee Aquarium that it is expanding into a 40,000-square-foot hangar at Lovell Field, previously owned by Jones.
The Chattanooga Airport Authority has approved the hangar space lease takeover.
West Star CEO Bob Rasberry, and Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd, acknowledged the assistance of Jones’ corporation in the business arrangement.
“It was truly a great experience, including Allan, city, state and federal people,” said Rasberry.
He added it was not an easy decision.
“We looked at a lot of cities, but Allan’s people kept after us.”
“We think this is a great location, and a great community,” Rasberry continued. “We’ll start with 25 to 50 people, and hope to expand to around 225 in five years.”
In addition to purchasing the hangar from Jones, West Star is looking at a 15-acre site nearby for expansion of a paint facility and a second maintenance hangar.
“West Star was pleased to collaborate with Jones Management Services in facilitating corporate aviation growth and local employment opportunities with this MRO expansion,” added Rasberry.
Boyd, the state commissioner, also praised Jones. He said he is excited by the fact West Star selected Chattanooga for it’s $22.5 million investment.
He said incentives are still being worked out for the agreement.
Boyd added that the Tennessee General Assembly played a huge role in the deal earlier this year, when it removed sales taxes from air maintenance work.
Charles Wood, of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said the Legislature’s action placed Tennessee in company with surrounding states.
State Rep. Patsy Hazelwood, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, and a number of corporate officials, also attended the announcement. All were pleased with the anticipation of West Star’s higher hourly wages of up to $27 per hour.
Berke said the city not only wants to increase employment, it also wants to increase wages. “This increases quality of life for everyone,” he emphasized.
Jones attended Monday’s announcement with members of his corporate team. He said, “This is a whole new deal for the Chattanooga Airport.”
The Cleveland businessman also paid tribute to Lynn DeVault, president of Jones Management, and others in his employ for their assistance. He said it was the same type of effort that assisted Cleveland recently in getting a new airport (the Cleveland Jetport).
Jones said his company was proud to assist in putting the deal together. The Jones Management team helped to develop the rationale for West Star to make the move to Chattanooga. They worked with the company for nine months (since last Thanksgiving) as company officials considered the feasibility of the move.
Jones said the state-of-the-art repair facility West Star will bring to Chattanooga will benefit businesses and industry throughout the region.
“Today’s announcement is going to have a tremendous benefit to the economic growth of our area,” he said. “This is history.”
Information released at Monday’s meeting emphasized the importance of the deal to the Cleveland businessman.
Jones Airways LLC, operates a Falcon 900, a Citation Excel, and a Beech 58 Baron. It will now benefit from quick access to the Chattanooga facility.
Jones’ company charters to CEOs, popular musicians, and movie stars in the Southeast. It also serves his Check Into Cash corporation, which has 1,100 locations nationwide.
West Star Aviation features repair and maintenance of air frames, windows and engines, along with major installation and repair, interior refurbishment, avionics sales, accessory services, painting and parts.
West Star has facilities in East Alton, Ill., Grand Junction, Colo., Columbia, S.C., Aspen, Colo., Chesterfield, Mo., and Chicago.
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