Frasca: 'Distractions' bite, but company's here forever

Frasca: 'Distractions' bite, but company's here forever

URBANA — Frasca International's president said the company is committed to Urbana, but sometimes he wishes it didn't have to deal with "distractions" that state and city governments can erect.

Speaking to the Champaign County Economic Development Corp.'s board of directors Wednesday, John Frasca said the company is "going to get hammered" by stormwater fees recently enacted to pay for local drainage system improvements.

The company at 906 E. Airport Road, U, has "a huge amount of concrete," including not only parking lots, but also runways at adjacent Frasca Field.

Frasca also panned the state's consideration of a progressive income tax.

But he thanked the city for its help with a development agreement for expansions at Frasca International and for improvements to Airport Road.

He also credited Parkland College and the University of Illinois for training technicians and engineers who can be hired at Frasca International.

Frasca said the company regularly gets overtures from other locations that want Frasca International to move there. But he declared, "We're going to be here forever."

The flight-simulator company employs more than 200 people and is in the middle of a three-part development project.

The first phase last year added a welding and composite shop at a cost of about $750,000. The company added about 20 employees last year, he said.

The second phase this year involves enhancing the lunchroom/breakroom area and converting some manufacturing space to office space at a cost of about $300,000.

The third phase, likely to take place next year, will include either a new building or an addition to the main building. Frasca said the cost could run between $750,000 and $2 million.

Frasca said the business is a $35 million company in a $1 billion industry, so "we have lots of room to grow." The company sells flight simulators worldwide and has equipment in more than 70 countries.

Frasca International sales representative Randy Gawenda said flight simulators sold by the company range in price from $50,000 to $4 million or $5 million. It can take anywhere from four months to two years to fulfill an order, depending on the magnitude, he said.

The economic development board, which held its monthly meeting at Frasca Field, also learned that:

— Several people have applied to become international trade specialist at the Small Business Development Center's newly formed International Trade Center. Greg Gonda, director of the Small Business Development Center, said there are "four good candidates" with experience and certifications.

— The economic development corporation's annual meeting will likely be a lunch meeting in early November. A location has yet to be chosen.

— An agricultural business is including Champaign County among possible sites in its search for 20 to 40 acres of developable land with rail service.

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