LONDON, England — Governor Robert Bentley addressed a group of economic development leaders and city officials from around Alabama this morning at a London hotel, signifying the start of several intense days of business meetings and relationship-building networking at the Farnborough International Airshow meant to bring new aerospace investment and jobs home to the state.
Governor Bentley, who arrived in England just minutes before his appearance at a breakfast meeting at the Park Place Westminster Bridge hotel, told the group that he planned to lead an effort to show aerospace industry leaders that “Alabama is the place to come and do business.”
“We’re here to recruit jobs for the state,” he said. “That’s the only reason we’re here.”
Governor Bentley, who is leading a small state working group that includes Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield, will be involved in more than 20 meetings over three days at the air show with executives from companies that have operations in the state and others that do not. (Read an article about Team Alabama’s objectives.)
“This is not a fun time. It’s the hardest three days I ever work,” he told Bloomberg TV in an interview. “It is very important for us to recruit these jobs and talk to these companies.”
During today’s breakfast, Governor Bentley said he hopes to participate in company announcements about projects involving Alabama during Farnborough, an aerospace industry trade event that attracts major companies and decision-makers from around the world.
“We’re going to have a great three or four days,” he said.
GOAL: JOBS AND INVESTMENT
The breakfast drew about 90 economic development officials, local elected officials, university representatives and others from all parts of the state. U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions attended the breakfast, as did Alabama Community College System Chancellor Mark Heinrich, whose system is seen as playing an important aerospace workforce development role.
Secretary Canfield told the group that the ultimate goal of the Farnborough mission was bring new aerospace investment and jobs to Alabama, setting the stage for expansion down the road.
“When companies do that, they succeed, and they do that over and over again,” Canfield said.
Mike Lanier, president of Birmingham-based Hoar Program Management, which sponsored the breakfast, told the group that Alabama is poised to see growth in its aerospace sector. HPM is overseeing the construction of the $600 million Airbus A320 Family Assembly Line at Mobile Aeroplex.
“There are a lot of good things going on for us as a group in our state in this industry,” Lanier said.