Governor Bentley and Alabama Team aim at aerospace growth at Farnborough Air Show

Published 07/11 2014 03:41PM

Updated 07/11 2014 03:49PM

MONTGOMERY –Governor Bentley on Thursday announced he, along with top Alabama leaders, economic development specialists and local officials will head to the Farnborough International Air Show near London next week for talks aimed at expanding the aerospace industry in the state.

“Aerospace and aviation industries are extremely important to Alabama,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “The Farnborough Air Show is a special opportunity to meet with company leaders from many of the world’s largest aerospace and aviation companies and encourage them to choose Alabama. Companies like Boeing and Airbus already know the business climate in Alabama, and have created good jobs for Alabamians. My goal for the air show is to create more jobs in this sector for the people of Alabama.”

Governor Robert Bentley will lead a small working team of Alabama officials that will join representatives of municipalities and economic development organizations from across the state at the industry’s premier trade event. The state team includes Greg Canfield, who heads the Alabama Department of Commerce as secretary, and Bob Smith, the department’s assistant business director and point man on aerospace.

Beginning Monday, July 14, the Alabama team at Farnborough will hold meetings with aviation and aerospace companies over three days, with a goal of building new connections and strengthening existing relationships with key industry players. The team also will work to highlight Alabama’s advantages to aerospace prospects.

A critical objective for the Alabama working team is to continue efforts to secure links in the supply chain for the Airbus A320 Family Assembly Line in Mobile, which could result in thousands of new jobs. Another is to position the state as an ideal location for aerospace research and development centers like the one announced last year by Boeing Co. in Huntsville.

“Airbus’ selection of Alabama for its U.S. production center makes a powerful statement about our capabilities and our infrastructure in this growing industry,” Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said. “By adding passenger jet assembly, Alabama is involved in virtually every segment of the aerospace ecosystem, from engineering and research to advanced manufacturing. At the same time, we are prepared for research centers like Boeing’s and for next-generation technologies, such as 3-D printing. The capabilities of Alabama’s aerospace industry really span the spectrum in this dynamic sector.”

The Farnborough Air Show takes place two years after Airbus announced its plans for the $600 million A320 Family Assembly Line, which will have 1,000 workers at the Mobile Aeroplex site at a peak production rate of four aircraft per month. Suppliers to the Airbus Alabama site are expected to create thousands of additional jobs. Airbus suppliers that locate in the state will benefit from investments Alabama has made in education, workforce training and infrastructure to support the manufacturing facility. One example is AIDT’s brand-new Alabama Aviation Training Center, established at Mobile Aeroplex to ensure Airbus has the skilled workforce it needs to assemble passenger jets.

The Airbus project is seen as a major boost to the state’s already robust aerospace/defense sector, which includes more than 300 companies with around 83,000 employees. The industry’s biggest names – Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, GE Aviation, GKN Aerospace – all have significant operations in Alabama. In addition, NASA has a major presence in Huntsville with the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Governor Bentley will leave for England on Saturday and return to Alabama Wednesday evening.

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