MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Alabama’s top economic developer traveled to Seattle, Wash., this week to foster deeper relationships with aerospace suppliers as Alabama moves to become the next global center of passenger jet production.
Alabama Secretary of State Greg Canfield, who was in Seattle for the British-American Business Council Aerospace Convention, is targeting the development of a supplier infrastructure in the state as Airbus prepares to ramp up production of A320 family aircraft in Mobile.
Because of Airbus’ presence, Canfield told The Seattle Times that he expects the aerospace industry to grow in Alabama in the same way the automotive industry has, through assembly plant expansions and the creation of an ever-widening supplier base.
“We fully expect the Airbus experience will be the same,” Canfield told the newspaper. “That’s our goal, to make that their experience.”
Canfield told the Puget Sound Business Journal that the growth of aviation manufacturing in the Southeast means the region will become even more attractive to suppliers serving Airbus, Boeing and other companies. “We think there is a business case for these businesses to look at expanding, with additional location opportunities in Alabama,” he said.
Canfield also told the publication that Airbus’ $600 million assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex, which will employ 1,000 people at full production, will provide a massive boost to the state’s aerospace sector. Already, 400 aerospace companies call Alabama home, employing more than 83,000 people.
“It represents real opportunity, and a real change in the lives of individuals and families in that region, who are able to begin work in careers that offer very competitive salaries and benefits,” Canfield told the Puget Sound Business Journal. “For individuals, it means opportunity, the ability to fulfill dreams and provide for the future of their children. It means economic expansion for those communities, too.”
Canfield told KING 5 News in Seattle that the Airbus project and the expansion of aerospace activity that’s sure to come with it will dramatically change the Mobile region. Production of A320 family aircraft begins in 2015, with the first customer delivery following the next year at Brookley.
“We are going to see a much different Mobile 20 years from today,” he said in the segment.
While at the conference, Canfield participated in a panel discussion, and the Department of Commerce sponsored a reception. He told The Seattle Times the trip was part of a “long-term effort on our part to develop relationships and a greater understanding of suppliers here.”
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