PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island on Wednesday approved tax credits worth up to $32 million over 10 years to woo a Burlington, Massachusetts company that wants to make battery electric-powered seagliders in the Ocean State.
REGENT Craft is exploring a lease on Quonset Point for its new headquarters. The state Commerce Corporation, which Governor Dan McKee chairs, voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the tax incentives. The state Commerce Corporation previously said the tax credits would be worth up to $13 million in over 10 years. In fact, REGENT Craft could get incentives for up to 750 jobs, the Commerce Corporation later clarified. That would translate to $32 million over 10 years, according to the company’s estimates, which Commerce did not dispute.
“We are thrilled to bring seaglider manufacturing and green innovation to Rhode Island,” Billy Thalheimer, CEO and cofounder of REGENT, said in an emailed statement. “The approved tax credits from Rhode Island Commerce and the State of Rhode Island will support REGENT’s hiring efforts as we look to scale our team adding 300+ high-wage engineering, manufacturing, and operations roles to our new global headquarters in the state.”
The company previously announced plans to partner with The Moore Brothers Company, based in Bristol, to create the seaglider. After REGENT moves its headquarters, they will become cross-bay neighbors.
REGENT is still in the prototype phase, but says it’s built an order book of some $6 billion. Its customers will be airlines and ferry operators that want to bring customers on routes like Providence to New York and Los Angeles to San Diego – just without the traffic, and with nicer views. It says it will build a full-scale seaglider prototype in 2023, and Rhode Island will help it get to where it wants to go,
“It has the unique combination of miles of coastal access to waterways critical for seaglider development and testing, a strong maritime and aerospace history, and a deep pool of professional and technical talent,” Thalheimer said in his statement.
The seagliders will fly at about 30 feet above the water. The first model, the 12-passenger Viceroy, will start flying in 2025, the company says, with a 160-nautical mile range.
The tax break will be on a staggered scale, meaning the exact total in tax credits will depend on the total salaries and number of people hired. The median salary, the state said, will be $150,000. But based on the company’s estimates of how many people it will hire, the credits would be worth $13 million over 10 years. The state said the company estimates it will begin hiring under the tax credits in 2025, with 100 jobs and credits at $500,000, and a minimum of 300 new full-time jobs by 2028.
But if the company does even better than those projections and hires more people in the first few years, it could get even more tax credits, with the state incentivizing up to 750 jobs, according to Hannah Moore, the assistant secretary of commerce for Rhode Island. According to REGENT, that would mean up to $32 million over 10 years in tax credits.
The state doesn’t pay the incentive until the W2 taxes are paid, with up to 75 percent of that returned back to the company in the form of the credit. The state says this helps protect taxpayers in two major ways: It means the jobs will actually come, and the state won’t pay more for them in a credit than it would get in taxes.
This article has been updated with additional information from the state Commerce Corporation.