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Helicopter company wants to land nearly 600 employees in metro Denver

An aerospace manufacturing company specializing in helicopter systems is considering locating an expanded manufacturing facility and consolidated headquarters in either Jefferson County or Adams County, bringing another 592 jobs on top of the 74 the company already employs in Colorado.

On Thursday, the Colorado Economic Development Commission approved a request for $5.4 million in Job Growth Incentive Tax Credits for Project Airborne, the codename given to the company to protect its identity.

Project Airborne also is considering Jacksonville, Fla.; Toronto, Canada, and San Antonio, Texas, for its expansion.

“The incentive we are pursuing today will be very impactful in the decision-making process,” Ted Telford, an economic development consultant the company hired, told commissioners.

Both production and non-production workers are expected to be hired and their jobs will pay an average annual wage of $103,584, which is 139% of the average annual wage in Jefferson County and 148% of the average annual wage in Adams County.

Although a company name was not provided, a Broomfield-based manufacturer of helicopter lift systems closely matches some of the details provided in a description from the Colorado Office of Economic Development.

Vita Inclinata provides systems that help stabilize helicopter lifts for both military and civilian uses, including firefighting, search and rescue, construction, wind energy, and oil and gas.

The company employs a similar number of people as listed in the description of Project Airborne, and it is also actively raising money, a condition the EDC attached to awarding incentives. In January, the company announced it had raised $44 million from the 3&1 Fund.

Project Airborne must prove that it has raised 75% of the $80 million targeted in new capital, per a stipulation the OEDIT requires.

Caleb Carr, Vita’s founder, was inspired to start the company after serving as a search and rescue volunteer in high school, according to the company’s website. His mentor, Don, went into cardiac arrest during a routine training. When a helicopter arrived to transport Don, it couldn’t insert its rescue litter due to gusty winds and turbulence from the rotors.

The helicopter was forced to turn back after several failed attempts, and Don died. After Carr learned that lost lives were common in helicopter rescues, he enrolled at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, where a professor challenged him to find a solution.

The company has a stated goal of helping eliminate 1 million preventable accidents and helping improve the safety of helicopter transportation. Vita did not respond before publication to confirm whether it is the company behind Project Airborne.

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