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Vector Aerospace expanding Alabama helicopter overhaul facility

ANDALUSIA, Alabama — Vector Aerospace is adding more than 75 jobs as it invests $3 million to expand an Andalusia facility that maintains and overhauls helicopters for the U.S. military and other customers.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said new aerospace jobs like those being created by Vector “put Alabamians back to work with well-paying jobs.”

“Alabama is an easy sell for me.  I know we have the best workers in the world. That helps industries like Vector grow,” Gov. Bentley said today in a Twitter message.

Vector currently employs about 150 people maintaining U.S. Army TH-67 helicopters based at nearby Fort Rucker and repairing U.S. Navy TH-57 helicopters based at Whiting Field near Milton, Fla., according to a report on al.com. Vector also operates a business development office at Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal, where the U.S. Army’s helicopter program is based, the publication said.

In April, American Eurocopter, producer of the widely used EC135 and EC145 light helicopters, said Vector’s Andalusia facility had received approval to operate as an Eurocopter service center, “giving Vector an immediate opportunity to enhance the support it offers to U.S. operators.” (In 2011, Eurocopter Holding, a subsidiary of EADS, acquired Canada-based Vector Aerospace Corp.)

It’s been an active week for economic development announcements in Alabama.  On Monday, aerospace giant GE Aviation officially opened a $75 million jet engine components plant in Auburn that will employ as many as 400 people once it ramps up to full production.

On Wednesday, Mercedes-Benz held a groundbreaking ceremony for a $70 million logistics hub at its Tuscaloosa County plant that will create 600 jobs from the automaker and its contractors and service providers. The facility will help support the launch of new models at the automaker’s Alabama operation, which now employs about 3,000 people.

On Thursday, Honda celebrated the start of mass production of the Acura MDX sport utility at its Talladega County assembly plant. It’s the first time Honda has produced a model from its Acura luxury line at the $2 billion Alabama manufacturing center.

The announcements underscore the dramatic expansion under way in two important sectors of Alabama’s economy – aerospace and automotive. This week, Site Selection magazine picked Airbus’ decision to build a passenger jet assembly facility at Mobile Brookley Aeroplex as one of its top U.S. deals of 2012. (The Mobile Chamber of Commerce was tapped as one of the nation’s top development groups for the project.)

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