Cirrus Aircraft announces new ‘Innovation Center’ at former AAR site

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 9:23 AM CDT
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DULUTH, MN -- Cirrus Aircraft announced Monday their plans to build a new “Innovation Center” at the former AAR site.

“The idea with the innovation center [is to] also move how we work and and where we work, so to speak, into the 21st century,” said CEO Zean Nielsen.

The new innovation center aims to give engineers space to create innovative new projects and build them all under one roof.

Cirrus said they would invest millions to transform the 189,000-square-foot building, located at 4600 Stebner Road, on 39 acres where engineers will develop the next generation of Cirrus Aircraft.

Cirrus said they would hire 80 engineers over the next three years totaling more than 350 employees working in the new facility once fully operational.

“We’re now, I think, the biggest employer in town outside the two hospitals. So we have a responsibility socially in the city also to to do things that sort of go beyond just the paycheck,” said Nielsen.

City leaders are thrilled at the possibility of the new building bringing more jobs to the local market.

“Right now they’ve got between 12 hundred and 13 hundred employees that are just in the Duluth area, and it does impact [the economy,]” said Chris Fleege, Duluth’s Director of Planning and Economic Development.

In August, the Duluth Economic Development Authority (DEDA) approved the agreement authorizing the sale of the former AAR building with a 60-year ground lease to Cirrus.

The purchase also takes the burden of tax and maintenance off the city.

“We became responsible for taxes because data had on that building from the inception and our economic development hiatus from taxes is basically nine years,” said Fleege, “it really frees us up from the financial burden and really allows them to expand very quickly to use that existing space.”

“Investing in this facility aligns with our strategy of growing our presence in Duluth, advancing our local community, and creating a world-class Innovation Center,” said Nielsen.

“For Cirrus Aircraft to expand their footprint in their hometown of Duluth means the world to us because it further elevates Duluth throughout the world of aviation,” said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson.

Cirrus said they are on tap to begin renovations on the new site this month.

We’ll hear from the CEO of Cirrus tonight on the news at 5 and 6 p.m.

Zean Nielsen, CEO of Cirrus Aircraft, says he’s excited about the company’s latest acquisition.

Chris Fleege, , says on top of added jobs, the purchase takes a significant burden off the city as well.

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