MD Helicopters, acquired in 2005 by Patriarch Partners LLC ofNew York City, began looking at other locations for itsmanufacturing operations when escalation clauses in its FalconField lease kicked in during early 2007. The company, throughvarious incarnations, has operated at the air field at 4800 E.Falcon Dr. since the early 1980s.

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"We'd worked with the company for a lot of years to keep therents down, but the company was running into financial problemswhen they were acquired," William Jabjinak, Mesa's economicdevelopment director, tells GlobeSt.com. He says the leaseescalations didn't help the situation although the company is nowoperating in the black.

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But there was more at stake from MD Helicopter's potentialdeparture other than vacant buildings and a loss of nearly 300 jobsfrom the airport. "Falcon is the fourth busiest airport in theregion for general aviation," Jabjinak says. "The airport is amajor employment effort for the city and we're concerned aboutattracting and maintaining quality jobs and companies."

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Jabjinak says the helicopter company plans to expand operationsin the coming years, with Falcon Field under consideration as apossible expansion site. Other sites under consideration arePhoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, North Texas Regional Airport inDenison, TX, Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City andShreveport Regional Airport in Shreveport, LA. Jabjinak says theagreement puts Falcon in an excellent position for any of MDHelicopter's future expansion plans.

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"They've been looking to address their expansion needs atadditional sites," Jabjinak adds. "And we're trying to maintain aworkforce while working with them on their expansion efforts."

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