Alabama team begins high-level meetings at Farnborough

LONDON – Governor Robert Bentley, Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield and economic development specialists from around Alabama have begun a series of pre-scheduled meetings at the Farnborough International Airshow with leaders of aerospace companies.

Governor Bentley and the recruitment team from the Alabama Department of Commerce Monday morning held discussions with companies including Boeing, Airbus and U.K.-based GKN Aerospace, which has a substantial manufacturing operation in Alabama.

“Companies like Airbus and Boeing already know about that Alabama has a strong business climate and a solid support system for aerospace,” Governor Bentley said.

“These companies have created good jobs for Alabama citizens, and we want to facilitate that growth to ensure more high-paying jobs are created,” he added.

At a kick-off breakfast Sunday, the governor said Alabama’s aerospace industry is primed for growth. Between 2011 and 2015, the state’s aerospace and defense sector attracted around $1.4 billion in new capital investment through projects with 6,000 jobs.


Economic development specialists from Mobile, Huntsville, southeast Alabama and other parts of the state are represented at Farnborough, which is a top event on the global aerospace calendar each year.

Lee Lawson, president of the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, is one of those working to make industry contacts and build relationships at the air show. The trip comes just months after UTC Aerospace Systems announced a $30 million, 260-job expansion at its manufacturing facility in Foley.

The expansion will allow UTC to supply integrated jet engine systems to the new Airbus A320 Family aircraft production center an hour away in Mobile.

“That’s something we can use in our meetings with other folks,” Lawson said about the UTC expansion project. “It’s like a Good Housekeeping ‘Seal of Approval.’ That is something we can definitely talk about.”

Farnborough 2016 is Lawson’s ninth European air show, which alternate between Paris and London. He said having a presence at the events benefits Alabama and his home turf of Baldwin County.

“The time we have invested in going to these air shows has paid dividends. We’ve got a growing number of companies in an aerospace cluster,” Lawson said. “We’re just looking for more wins, and we think we are positioned for that.”

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Alabama’s robust aerospace industry is soaring to new heights, propelled by groundbreaking projects and innovative investments that continue to add new dimensions to the sector across the state.