BAE planning $8 million upgrade of its Fort Wayne plant

The number of former BAE employees charged in an education-fraud scheme continues to grow. (File photo by Kevin Leininger of The News-Sentinel.com)

A firm allegedly victimized by a massive employee tuition-reimbursement scam is planning to invest more than $8 million in new equipment that will protect 833 jobs at its plant at 4250 Airport Expressway.

BAE Systems Controls has asked City Council for an abatement that would reduce its taxes on $8.029 million in manufacturing equipment by $600,611 over 10 years. The request will be introduced Tuesday, and installation is scheduled to begin this month, with completion by the end of 2019. The application does not specify what kind of equipment will be purchased or the products it would produce.

The equipment apparently will not result in any immediate job expansion, but the current payroll is about $48.3 million.

Just five years ago the British firm was exploring relocating its 1,000 local employees because of concerns about its World War II-era facility in a former GE plant at 2000 Taylor St. Local officials worked hard to keep BAE, though, and with the help of $2 million from the city’s Redevelopment Commission and $2.5 million Capital Improvement Board, the company moved into a new $39 million, 334,000-square-foot plant on Airport Expressway two years later. At the time, about 20 percent of the plant’s products were military related, including circuit cards for the Air Force’s F-22 fighter.

As The News-Sentinel first reported, 20 former employees have been indicted in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne for allegedly defrauding the company of hundreds of thousands of dollars in reimbursement for courses they never attended. More indictments are expected.

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