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Alabama firms make international connections at Paris Air Show

PARIS — The Alabama team at the 2023 Paris Air Show has a major focus on recruiting new aerospace jobs and investment, but this year’s mission has a wrinkle — helping homegrown companies claim a spot on the international business stage.

For the first time, three Alabama firms are attending the aerospace industry’s biggest trade event as part of an initiative to help small and medium-sized enterprises identify new markets for their products.

Christina Stimpson, director of Alabama Department of Commerce’s Office of International Trade, said the “Made in the USA” SME Zone represents a promising new avenue for the state firms.

“The contacts and meetings made during the trade show will lead to important connections and exports for Alabama,” she said.

The Alabama companies in Paris are:

The “Made in the USA” SME Zone, created in collaboration with the State International Development Organizations (SIDO), is featuring 18 companies representing Alabama and six other states.

SIDO is the only national organization focused on supporting governors’ international trade agendas by serving and representing the 50 state trade agencies to the federal government.

“The SIDO ‘Made in the USA’ SME Zone provides a unique platform for states and businesses to participate in one of the most important international trade shows in the world,” SIDO Executive Director Andy Karellas. “SMEs can collaborate and utilize our resources to execute their international sales and grow U.S. exports.”

The Alabama exhibitors each have around a dozen pre-qualified business-to-business meetings throughout the event’s trade show days. The appointments were arranged by SIDO and Christoph Dörr, who directs the department’s European office in Stuttgart, Germany.

For SEPCO CEO Chris Wilder, it’s his first international aerospace trade show.

But exporting is nothing new for his Alabaster-based company, which sells its mechanical seals, gasketing materials, compression packing and other high-performance products in approximately 40 countries.

“While it’s not a new market for us, we do have some new and emerging product lines for the aerospace market, so the timing is fortunate,” Wilder said.

“We are grateful and pleased that the Alabama Department of Commerce, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Commerce and SIDO, have assisted us in participating in the show and helping us to further our marketing efforts.”


Stimpson said the outlook for Alabama’s aerospace exports looks strong.

Overseas shipments of aerospace products and parts surged 21% in 2022 to exceed $1.7 billion, according to Commerce data.

Plus, the state has a new exporter: Airbus’ Mobile manufacturing facility, which recently delivered an A320 aircraft to a Mexican airline.

“With Airbus’ recent first export from the Alabama facility, we are excited for the future of aerospace exports from Alabama,” Stimpson said.


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