Cirrus Buyer Pledges to Keep Jobs in Duluth

While some Minnesotans worried that Cirrus' acquisition by a Chinese company could result in the elimination of Duluth jobs, both the acquiring company's leaders and the City of Duluth have reportedly pledged to support the business-and keep its operations in the northern Minnesota town.

News that Duluth-based Cirrus Industries, Inc., would be sold to a Chinese government-controlled company sparked concerns about a loss of Minnesota jobs.

Minnesota's Republican Representative Chip Cravaack, for example, in March sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, asking him to examine the proposed deal with caution. Even at that time, however, Cirrus President and CEO Brent Wouters argued that the sale would actually “preserve thousands of jobs in Minnesota.”

Still, worries persisted among employees and the community about what the sale would mean for the northern Minnesota town.

So the city recently approached China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company (CAIGA), seeking a written statement that Cirrus would stay and grow in Duluth, according to a report by the Duluth News Tribune.

The city reportedly drafted a memorandum of understanding about six weeks ago, which CAIGA tweaked with “minor but acceptable” changes. And on Tuesday, CAIGA President Xiangkai Meng and Duluth Mayor Don Ness signed the document during a ceremony.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, the city pledged to support Cirrus, while CAIGA said it would keep the company's operations in Duluth, where it is one of the city's largest employers. The memorandum of understanding isn't a legally binding document, but it marks an important commitment, the newspaper reported.

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken reportedly sent a letter to CAIGA's president encouraging him to sign it. Cirrus spokesman Bill King, meanwhile, told the Duluth News Tribune that a written agreement really wasn't necessary to assure that Cirrus will remain in Duluth.

Media reports indicate that the acquisition, which was originally announced in February, was completed in late June. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.