An aerospace company that plans to invest millions of dollars for an aircraft center at Chennault International Airport could be exempt from paying local property taxes for several years, pending approval from several local and state entities.

The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury on Thursday approved an industrial tax exemption contract between Citadel Completions LLC, the state and the Louisiana Department of Economic Development. 

The contract also requires approval from the city of Lake Charles, Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office, and Calcasieu School Board. It then goes before the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry for review, followed by final approval from the governor.

Once approved, Citadel would be exempt from paying 100 percent of local property taxes for five years. After that, the company can ask for a three-year extension to exempt 80 percent of local property taxes, which would also require approval from local and state entities.

Officials with Citadel and Chennault announced in May that the aerospace company will invest $17.6 million for an aircraft center to modify the interiors of luxury and commercial aircraft, including Boeing and Airbus jets. The investment is expected to produce 256 new direct jobs with an average salary of $80,000 per year, along with 347 indirect jobs.

R.B. Smith, vice president of workforce development for the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, said manufacturing businesses “are the center hub of any community’s economic development” in today’s market. He said the region will continue to collect sales tax revenue from new hires who are earning good salaries. 

“For each of those jobs, they’re going to town and spending their money,” he said. “They’re using every service we’re using, and we’re going to need more people to support those services.”

Created and funded by Las Vegas businessman Sheldon Adelson, Citadel will be housed in two hangars at Chennault, along with an administrative building.

Calcasieu Parish Government and Cameron Parish Reporter

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