Alabama team uncovers potential projects at 2019 Paris Air Show

Alabama team uncovers potential projects at 2019 Paris Air Show
Members of the Alabama economic development team and officials of GE Aviation get together at the Paris Air Show. (contributed)

Alabama’s business recruitment team wrapped up its efforts at the 2019 Paris Air Show today after engaging in around 20 appointments with high-ranking aerospace executives, along with many informal encounters with industry officials.

Over three days in Paris’ Le Bourget airfield, the Alabama aerospace recruitment effort uncovered seven potential projects and advanced the recruitment of five active projects that could be on their way to the state.

On Monday, when Gov. Kay Ivey and Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield were present, the team engaged in nine scheduled appointments with aerospace companies, as well as several impromptu discussions with industry executives.

Ivey said she asked the economic development specialists in Paris to focus on one goal — convincing aerospace companies from around the globe that the ideal location for new investments and jobs is Alabama.

“Our trip was productive and focused on advancing active projects currently in the pipeline. Our appointments this week were positive, and there is a strong chance they will lead to job-creating projects,” she said.

“The fact that our Alabama team had access to executives from top global aerospace firms demonstrates that Alabama is positioned for growth in the short term and, very importantly, in the future.”

The effort continued Tuesday and Wednesday with additional appointments at Le Bourget conducted by Bob Smith, the Alabama Department of Commerce’s point man on aerospace.

Canfield said expanding the aerospace supply chain in the state is key as major players in the industry solidify their manufacturing footprint across Alabama. The state’s aerospace manufacturing employment base has grown by more than 1,000 jobs in the past year, providing a glimpse of more potential gains.

“The supply chain was an important strategic focus for us at the Paris Air Show this year,” Canfield said. “With aerospace investment coming into the state, it’s key for us to facilitate the development of the supply chain for companies like Airbus, ULA and Aerojet Rocketdyne.”

Productive mission

Smith said the European air shows at Paris and at Farnborough near London represent important business events for the state because foreign direct investment is extensive in Alabama’s aerospace cluster. He believes the recruiting and marketing strategy at this year’s air show was the most productive in the past several years.

“The state team was prepared with a well-balanced agenda of scheduled appointments with projects we are pursuing, companies with existing operations in Alabama, and targeted supply-chain companies we want to bring to the state,” said Smith, whose title at the Commerce Department is assistant director of business development-European strategy.

The Alabama team’s formal appointment list at the 2019 Paris Air Show included companies such as the United Launch Alliance, Blue Origin, Carpenter Technology, Raytheon, GKN Aerospace and GE Aviation.

The team also connected with high-ranking military officials and top government officials such as Wilbur Ross, secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Jim Birdenstine, administrator of NASA.

“Being able to leverage Alabama’s top officials at the show to discuss and negotiate both existing projects and new opportunities directly with a company’s highest officials and decision-makers is extremely helpful to our effort,” Smith said.

“Recruitment of aerospace companies is highly competitive, and we met our goals this year in all three areas.”

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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