MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Two Alabama cities with growing aviation and aerospace sectors – Mobile and Huntsville – rank near the top of Business Facilities magazine’s Economic Growth Potential Rankings of U.S. metro areas.
Mobile ranked No. 2 in the publication’s analysis, while Huntsville is No. 4 on the list.
Business Facilities said Mobile earned its spot “on the strength of its success in landing a crown jewel of aerospace manufacturing—the North American assembly hub for Airbus.” The aviation giant broke ground on its plant at Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley in April.
“Airbus will be a powerful engine for growth in the Mobile region for decades to come,” said Business Facilities Editor In Chief Jack Rogers.
Airbus will assemble its A320 family of aircraft in Mobile, beginning in 2015. The $600 million project will create up to 1,000 direct jobs when the final assembly line reaches full capacity of four aircraft a month. Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor noted in a CNBC column that the Mobile site is ideal for the company, as are the relationships it has built in Alabama.
Building the facility at Mobile Aeroplex will create nearly 3,200 construction-related jobs over a three-year period. The construction project is being overseen by Birmingham’s Hoar Program Management. (Read a story with a video about Hoar’s work on the project.)
Alabama officials are actively pursuing suppliers that will serve the Airbus plant. A subsidiary of Labinal, Safran Engineering Services, opened an engineering supporting facility in Mobile Aeroplex in April. Labinal is part of the French aerospace conglomerate, Safran Group, which met with Gov. Robert Bentley during a visit to the Paris Air Show in June.
Bentley led Alabama’s delegation at the international air show, where he met with around two dozen companies. “Aerospace is one of our 11 target sectors in the Accelerate Alabama strategic growth plan, and we are attempting to build on the momentum from the Airbus project and other positive developments in this important sector,” Bentley said at the event.
Huntsville, meanwhile, has “signaled it intends to defend its turf as a leading national center in aerospace,” Business Facilities noted.
In July, Moon Express Inc. announced the opening of a propulsion development facility in Huntsville that will be key to landing the world’s first commercial spacecraft on the Moon, the publication said.
Business Facilities said its Economic Growth Potential ranking is based on its evaluation of successful growth strategies, diversification of growth sectors, recent projects and available incentives, among other factors. Baton Rouge, La., ranked No. 1. This is the ninth installment of the magazine’s economic growth potential rankings.
Full results appear on Business Facilities’ website and in its July/August magazine edition.
Business Facilities previously ranked Alabama No. 2 among the states for automotive manufacturing strength, calling the state a “rising automotive powerhouse.”