‘Seagliders’ developer seeks up to $13M in tax credits for move to Quonset

REGENT CRAFT INC., a startup company now based in Massachusetts that's developing an on-the-water transport vessel called a
REGENT CRAFT INC., a startup company now based in Massachusetts that's developing an on-the-water transport vessel called a "seaglider," is seeking tax credits worth up to $13 million from R.I. Commerce Corp. through the Qualified Job Tax Credit program. / RENDERING COURTESY REGENT CRAFT INC.

PROVIDENCE – A company with backing from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban that’s behind the development of “seagliders” – a new type of regional transportation vehicle that cruises over the water at 180 mph – is looking to relocate its employees from Massachusetts to Rhode Island with the help of a Qualified Job Tax Credit from R.I. Commerce Corp.

The tax credits for Regent Craft Inc. could be worth up to $13 million, although the total will depend on the number of jobs created and the salaries, according to R.I. Commerce Corp.

“The high-wage jobs will be comprised of engineering, manufacturing, management and administration roles,” says a project sheet prepared by R.I. Commerce staff. “The company would agree to select Rhode Island upon approval of the award of tax credits.”

The R.I. Commerce board is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday to consider the approval of tax credits for Regent Craft under the state’s Qualified Jobs Incentive Tax Credit program, in relation to the company’s establishment of a headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Rhode Island. The company is looking to potentially establish a site at the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown, according to R.I. Commerce. The startup company is currently located in Burlington, Mass.

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On Tuesday, the R.I. Commerce Investment Committee voted unanimously, 3-0, in favor of providing an offset in taxes for the 300 new full-time jobs the company said it plans to establish in Rhode Island by 2028, including the company’s current employees and new employees that it hires in Rhode Island. 

R.I. Commerce said Regent Craft’s relocation to the Ocean State would involve direct investment in new facility construction and machinery and equipment totaling an estimated $367 million.

Regent Craft, which is partnering with composite manufacturing, research and development firm in Bristol called Moore Brothers Composites Inc., announced its plans last year to build electric-powered, 12-seat seagliders that it hopes will be used as a form of harbor-to-harbor public transportation.

Regent Craft’s goal is to “safely transport commercial passengers by 2025,” as part of a “new approach for regional travel” that will be “faster than a ferry and half the operating cost of a plane,” the company said.

“Our team of experienced aerospace and naval engineers are pioneering safe, high-speed, zero-emission, regional transportation,” the company states on its website. “Electric maritime transportation enables drastic decreases in fuel costs, maintenance, and taxes.”

The maritime vessel requires confirmation from the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, the company said.

“Over time, a collaborative approach between aviation and maritime authorities is key to deploy seagliders at scale,” the company said.

REGENT CRAFT INC., a startup company now based in Massachusetts that's developing an on-the-water transport vessel called "seagliders," is seeking tax credits worth up to $13 million from R.I. Commerce Corp. through the Qualified Job Tax Credit program. / RENDERING COURTESY REGENT CRAFT INC.
REGENT CRAFT INC.’s “seagliders” are proposed to carry 12 passengers and travel up to 180 mph on the water. / RENDERING COURTESY REGENT CRAFT INC.

Reached by email, a spokesperson for Regent declined to comment on Tuesday, stating that the company prefers to comment after Wednesday’s R.I. Commerce board meeting.

Regent Craft said it has already raised $27 million as of January, with a Series A funding round still ongoing. The company is a venture-backed startup with financing led by Thiel Capital and JAM Fund, with support from financiers including Cuban, Mesa Air Group, Y Combinator, Founders Fund, Caffeinated Capital and Fitbit founder James Park.

“These subsequent funding rounds will fuel expansion and allow the company to create new jobs associated with continued research and development, commercialization, manufacturing, sales, and operations,” says the project sheet produced by R.I. Commerce.

Marc Larocque is a PBN staff writer. Contact him at Larocque@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @LaRockPBN.

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