HAMBURG, Germany — Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson told aviation company executives at a conference today in Germany that the Alabama city is an ideal location for supplier operations tied to Airbus’ passenger jet production center, now under construction at Brookley Aeroplex.
“I’m here today — just a month since taking office as mayor — to bring you a simple message: Mobile is open for business,” Stimpson said at the Aviation Forum 2013 in Hamburg. “The best way for you to meet Airbus’ needs will be to establish a presence in Mobile. My pledge to you is that we will be a good partner. Your success is our success.”
The Aviation Forum is a major industry event that attracts suppliers looking to work with aerospace giant Airbus around the globe. Stimpson is part of an Alabama delegation that includes Mobile area business leaders and Alabama Department of Commerce Assistant Director of Business Development Bob Smith. Alabama officials are working to position the state as the logical choice for Airbus suppliers.
Stimpson gave a welcome address to an audience of about 300 industry officials at the Forum, highlighting his first international trade mission since taking office as Mobile’s mayor on Nov. 4. He spoke about the impact of the $600 million Airbus A320 family final assembly line, the global flavor of Mobile’s economy and the area’s business advantages.
“Airbus represents a game-changer for our community and, I imagine, it will have an impact on many of you here in this room,” he told the industry officials. ”The plant will establish a new aviation center of excellence in the Southeastern U.S. It also will generate increased activity throughout the Airbus production network and its global supply chain.”
Airbus broke ground at Brookley Aeroplex for its Alabama assembly line in April. The company will begin producing its top-selling A320 family of single-aisle passenger jets in Mobile in 2015, with the first customer delivery set for 2016. At full production, the Alabama facility will employ more than 1,000 workers. Suppliers setting up operations are expected to create many more jobs.
Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor this month said that suppliers could land in a wide radius from the Airbus facility, with communities such as Montgomery being among many possibilities.
Stimpson told the industry officials at the conference that Mobile has a long history of foreign investment, dating back to the city’s founding by French explorers in 1702. Today, more than 400 international companies from 30 nations have operations in Mobile, he said. German companies, including ThyssenKrupp, Evonik Degussa and BASF, have a strong presence, he added.
The Port of Mobile, one of the nation’s most active port operations, has long made the city a “center of international commerce,” Stimpson said. The Port of Mobile ranks as the 12th busiest U.S. port in overall foreign trade cargo volume and handles more than 25 million tons of cargo each year.
“We may come from different places, but I want you to know that when it comes to business, we speak the same language,” he said in his speech.
Stimpson also told the industry officials at the supply chain conference that Alabama workers can help make their operations successful.
“I can tell you that we have some of the hardest workers anywhere in the world — as Airbus can attest — and the State of Alabama’s workforce development program is truly world-class,” he said. AIDT, the state job-training agency, ranks as one of the nation’s best.
After his speech, Stimpson said Mobile “is the buzz” at the Forum. Stimpson and others later attended a reception with supplier companies, and the mayor was a guest at a dinner with Airbus executives and representatives from several top suppliers.
While in Hamburg, the Alabama delegation toured the vast Airbus facility, where A320 aircraft are assembled, and a nearby UTC Aerospace facility. UTC has a large operation in Baldwin County, not far from Mobile, where it produces engine nacelles and other components.
Caption for photo above: Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, left, stands with Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson in front of a Made In Alabama display during Hamburg trip.