By Irene Klotz
MELBOURNE, Fla. (Reuters) - Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer SA will build an airplane seat plant in Titusville, Florida, expanding its facilities in a region hit hard by the shutdown of NASA's space shuttle program four years ago, officials said on Monday.
The facility, due to open in the second half of 2016, will be run by a California-based company Embraer has acquired and renamed Embraer Aero Seating Technologies.
Located just west of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Central Florida, the new plant will make high-end seats for Embraer's Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 business jets, which are assembled in nearby Melbourne, Florida, company spokeswoman Alyssa Ten Eyck said.
Embraer is also investing $76 million in a related expansion to assemble its Legacy 450 and Legacy 500 business aircraft in Melbourne. The expansion should be finished in late 2016.
The company established an engineering and technology center in Melbourne in 2014, and a customer design center in 2012.
About 400 of Embraer's 800 Florida employees work in Melbourne. Embraer expects to add another 850 jobs in Central Florida, including 600 at the Legacy assembly plant, 150 at the Titusville facility, and about 100 more engineering positions in Melbourne.
Embraer employment in Brevard County will surpass 1,000 by 2020, Gary Spulak, president of Embraer's U.S. subsidiary, Embraer Aircraft Holding, said in an email.
The new Embraer facility will be located at the Brevard County-owned Spaceport Commerce Park in Titusville.
The North Brevard Economic Development Zone offered $2.5 million to offset construction costs and agreed to clear and prepare about 15 acres of land.
Embraer said its total investment in the project is $3.5 million.
Titusville was selected for the project after a multi-state site selection processes, Spulak said.
“Titusville scored high in many of the factors important to the success of the business,” he added.
(Correcting number of jobs in 7th paragraph to 1,000 from 2,000)
(Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Alwyn Scott and Andre Grenon)