London, ON, March 2010
About this photo: We're celebrating March Madness all week long. Click here if you'd like to jump into the fray.Diamond Aircraft has been a success story on the local business landscape since its Austrian parent first started assembling its innovative private aircraft designs here.
Whereas the typical private plane was designed before humans could talk - the Cessna 172's design, for example, dates back to 1955 - Diamond's DA20 (pictured above) replaces Winnebago-esque sheetmetal and engines that make a Ford Pinto's mill look positively state-of-the-art with modern carbon fibre airframes and powerful, efficient engines.
In recent years, the company's been trying to expand beyond its private aviation roots, and its staked its future on the D-Jet, a low-cost, 5-seat jet. Various governments have already approved loans to develop the plane. The problem: A final, $35 million loan to kickstart actual production has been stalled. The federal election campaign that just got underway isn't going to accelerate matters.
My take? This isn't some pie-in-the-sky program. Governments have already committed to it, and 240 orders for the plane have already been received. The fate of 200 remaining employees and one of the shining lights of the local economy dangle in the balance while governments dither. If this continues much longer, it won't do much good to counter the belief that London's "open for business" claims are little more than wishful thinking.
Your turn: How should governments help local economies? Are they doing enough now? Too much? Do tell...