MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Governor Robert Bentley is leading an Alabama delegation that includes top economic development specialists to the Farnborough International Airshow near London next week for meetings aimed at fueling additional growth in the state’s aerospace sector.
Governor Bentley and a small working team from the Alabama Department of Commerce will join recruiters and government leaders from around the state at the industry’s premier trade event, which attracts high-level executives from aerospace companies based all over the world.
“The aerospace industry continues to grow in Alabama because of the relationships we have built over many years, so it’s vital that we renew and strengthen those ties,” Governor Bentley said. “The Farnborough Airshow is a perfect opportunity for us to meet with company leaders and encourage them to choose Alabama.
“My goal for this mission is to build on the foundation we have in place for additional job creation in the aerospace sector across the state,” he added.
Beginning Monday, July 11, Governor Bentley, working closely with Commerce’s business development team, will engage in a number of scheduled meetings with aviation and aerospace companies over three days. These companies include Boeing, Airbus and U.K.-based GKN Aerospace, which operates a large manufacturing facility and technical research center in Tallassee.
Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said his team at Farnborough will use the talks to showcase Alabama’s advantages and capabilities in the aerospace sector, while positioning the state as a prime location for new investment and jobs.
“The Farnborough International Airshow gives us access to a long list of senior-level aerospace executives at one location,” Secretary Canfield said. “These are the industry’s decision-makers, and we will engage with them to make a business case from their companies to build or expand in Alabama.”
The Commerce team at Farnborough will also include Ted Clem, director of business recruitment and expansion, and Bob Smith, assistant director.
Alabama’s aerospace industry is expected to experience a sustained growth phase as Airbus ramps up production at its new $600 million aircraft assembly facility in Mobile. Airbus delivered its first Alabama-built A321 passenger jet to customer JetBlue in April and its fourth aircraft to American Airlines in late June.
Thanks to a rich history in aerospace activities, Alabama is home to a long list of major aviation and aerospace companies, with Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, GE Aviation and UTC Aerospace Systems joining Airbus. In addition, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Maxwell Air Force Base, and the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker are all located in Alabama.
Since 2011, when Governor Bentley took office, Alabama has recorded more than $1.4 billion in new capital investment stemming from aerospace and defense projects, according to Department of Commerce data. The projects involved 6,000 new jobs across the state.
The growth in Alabama’s aerospace sector has continued in the build-up to the Farnborough Airshow. Days ago, Aerojet Rocketdyne announced plans to base the headquarters of its newly formed Defense Business Unit in Huntsville, initially creating 40 jobs.
Earlier this year, UTC Aerospace Systems announced a $30 million expansion of its manufacturing facility in Baldwin County that will position it to assemble engine nacelles and deliver integrated jet engine systems to the Airbus aircraft factory in Mobile. The project will add 260 jobs.