Vector vexes board

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The future of Vector Aerospace in Covington County could hinge on nearly $8,000 in rent a year and the ability for the company to pull out within six months.

Last month, the South Alabama Airport Authority proposed a year’s free rent for an eight-year contact, with the company paying nearly $38,000 a month in total rental fees after the first year.

The company’s counterproposal included the eight-year contract, but offered only $30,000 a month in years two through eight. They currently pay just short of $37,000 per year.

Vector also wants to retain language in an older agreement, which gives them the ability to give six months notice on the lease if their workforce falls below 50 fulltime employees. At present, Vector has 121 employees at the local facility.

SARA co-director Jed Blackwell said he didn’t see that one coming.

County Commission Chairman Bill Godwin said he’d rather the airport authority not agree to those terms.

Dr. Chuck Burgess, who is the vice chairman of the board, said he was frustrated.

“All we’ve done is make concessions for them,” he said. “We’ve made all kinds of modifications. We’ve given, given, given. At some point we have to say it’s not worth it.”

With the six-month provision, the board said Vector could take advantage of the year’s lease and give six months notice six months into the lease.

The board agreed it wants Vector to agree to repay all the free rent if they leave in the first year.

Godwin said he’d like to see a minimum of three years guaranteed.

“I want the eight years,” Authority Chairman Gary Smith said. “With big Vector guaranteeing it.”

Vector Aerospace is an international company that employs 2,700 people in 21 locations across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Africa and Australia.