TALLASSEE, Alabama – GKN Aerospace’s Alabama leadership joined state and local officials today to officially break ground on an addition to the company’s Tallassee facility that will house an engineering design center.
U.K.-based GKN Aerospace announced the Alabama engineering design center at the Farnborough International Airshow in July. Today’s event signified the beginning of construction work on a permanent, 10,800-square-foot base for the center, where design and analysis engineers initially will focus on composite technologies for rotorcraft.
“The new composites design engineering center in Alabama will enable our global company to expand the high level of design/development engineering support we provide to customers,” said Jeff Barger, vice president and general manager of the GKN Aerospace Advanced Composite Structures (ACS) facility.
“In addition, this project will significantly increase the number of highly skilled engineering personnel based at the growing facility in Tallassee.”
The engineering design center now is housed in a temporary location at the Elmore County plant, which concentrates on aerostructures made from composite materials for industry partners such as Bell Helicopter, HondaJet, and Airbus. Initial recruiting has begun for the center, which will have a maximum headcount of 30.
In the Farnborough announcement, GKN Aerospace said the Alabama center will extend its global engineering strength and provide additional expertise in designing and building major composite structures. It said the center expands the facility’s established design-for-manufacturing operation that works with industry partners to increase reliability and lower manufacturing costs.
Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield, who attended today’s groundbreaking ceremony, said GKN Aerospace’s decision to locate the engineering design center in Tallassee is significant because it positions the state to attract more knowledge-based jobs in aerospace and other industries.
“Alabama offers advanced manufacturers many advantages, including a skilled workforce, top-notch job-training programs, and a business-friendly environment,” Canfield said. “This project from GKN Aerospace shows that Alabama also represents an attractive location for research and development functions that provide critical support to advanced manufacturing.”
The GKN Aerospace ACS facility, located about 35 miles from Montgomery, has been in operation since 1985 and today employs more than 1,000 people. The Alabama plant boasts 380,000 square feet of manufacturing space, after a 120,000-square-foot expansion announced in 2005.
The engineering design center is expected to be operating in its new home by early next year.
“We’re very excited that GKN has decided to do this project in our community,” Tallassee Mayor Bobby Payne said. “It means that we will get more good jobs at a time when jobs are needed. GKN is an excellent company, and it continues to do great work.”