Close to 500 new jobs are soon coming to Amarillo. Bell Helicopter's latest expansion means the Amarillo economy is getting a big boost.
Construction on the new building is set to start this October and be finished by October of 2010. The Bell Helicopter facility is about to become bigger, 137-thousand square feet bigger to be exact.
Tuesday afternoon, City Commission gave the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation the green light to give Bell Helicopter 31 million dollars to do it. When all is said and done, 459 news jobs are expected, that's over the next four years.
Bell Helicopter Site-Manager Roger Williams says, "We're talking about high paying, high tech jobs. Our average factory employee makes $24.50 an hour, without fringes or overtime." That's music to AEDC Vice President Steve Pritchett's ears. "We'll take all of those we can get, especially at a time when most areas of the country are seeing their local employment going the other way."
Bell Helicopter says they're hoping they can continue the tradition of hiring locals to fill these new spots. Williams comments, "Over the course of the past few years, we have hired 250 grads from the Amarillo College program."
In addition to the new jobs, the AEDC says there's another benefit, one the building itself will provide. "Last year Bell paid about $450,000 in property taxes." This is Bell Helicopter's seventh expansion since opening in Amarillo back in 1998.