An engineering company specializing in the aerospace industry announced Tuesday that it will add 100 engineers and invest more than $1.2 million to expand its downtown Lexington office.
Belcan, headquartered in Cincinnati, started its design center in the Lexington Vine Center in 2005 with about 20 employees. Today, the group has more than 150 engineers and other staffers and plans to add 100 more over the next year. To do that, it will add 15,000 square feet to its Lexington office — an additional floor for the company in the Vine Center.
The 100 new jobs will mostly be entry-level engineering jobs, with an average wage of $27.45 an hour.
The increase in the number of engineers is necessary to work on projects for one of Belcan's key clients, Pratt & Whitney, a commercial and military aerospace gas turbine engine supplier, said Lance Kwasniewski, CEO of Belcan.
Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, who attended a ceremony Tuesday at the downtown Hilton announcing the creation of the new jobs, said the partnership among Belcan, the state, the city of Lexington and the University of Kentucky's college of engineering has proven successful.
Many of Belcan's engineering jobs have been filled by graduates of UK and other Kentucky schools, Luallen said.
She said Belcan is one of many businesses adding jobs in Kentucky, and unemployment rates for Kentucky and Lexington tell that story.
"Unemployment here went from 5.2 percent at this time last year to the current rate of 4.8 percent," Luallen said. "At the height of the recession, you were at 9 percent."
Belcan officials said it will take three to six months to remodel the 14th floor at the Vine Center to make room for the additional engineers. The company hopes to start hiring after the beginning of the year, Kwasniewski said.
Mayor Jim Gray, who also attended the announcement, said Belcan's commitment to Lexington might help the city attract other aerospace and high-tech jobs.
"Attracting this outstanding company to our city and helping it grow its aerospace engineering and design center are huge steps forward that will tell the world Lexington is a great place to do business," Gray said.
Belcan, which has 6,000 employees in 49 locations, has qualified to receive city and state economic incentives for the expansion. In July, the Urban County Council approved a $100,000 forgivable loan to Belcan to add 100 jobs over 10 years. When it came to Lexington in 2005, Belcan also received state incentives. According to state economic development officials, it did not meet all of the job targets under the 2005 agreement and did not receive the full amount of those incentives — as much as $6.9 million in tax credits.
Under an expanded agreement, Belcan can now recoup the full $6.9 million if it hires all of the 100 new employees it expects to hire.