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New Helicopter Facility Moving into Lafayette

Governor Bobby Jindal and Bell Helicopter CEO John Garrison announcing today the company will produce its new SLS helicopter at Lafayette Regional Airport. The project will be the first modern-era aircraft assembly facility in Louisiana.

The project will create 115 new direct jobs averaging more than $55,000 per year, plus benefits, while Bell will invest $11.4 million in equipment and tooling. LED estimates the aerospace project will result in another 136 new, permanent indirect jobs, for a total of more than 250 new jobs in Acadiana.

Bell Helicopter says it selected Louisiana for the new facility after a highly competitive site-selection process in which several states were seriously considered.

Bell Helicopter will lease space for its SLS assembly operation in a new, 82,300-square-foot, $26.3 million hangar facility at Lafayette Regional Airport that is being funded by the State of Louisiana.

Construction will begin in the first half of 2014. Bell will begin hiring employees for the new facility by 2015, and assembly operations will start by 2016 following certification of the facility and the aircraft.

Bell Helicopter announced plans to re-enter the SLS market at the 2013 Paris Air Show in June.

View the coverage on KATC's website .