London Calling for Supplier Seeking Officials

London Calling for Supplier Seeking Officials

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As construction crews continue their work on Mobile’s Airbus Assembly Facility, local leaders are heading to London to try to recruit more aerospace firms here. Elected officials and economic developers will attend the Farnborough Air Show with the goal of attracting businesses that will supply the Airbus-320 that will be made in Mobile.

The Farnborough Air Show is a who’s who of aerospace.

“If they’re important in aerospace, then they’re there,” said Fred Richardson, Mobile City Council Vice President..

Richardson will attend the air show, along with fellow council members Gina Gregory and C-J Small, and Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson. Mobile County Commissioners Connie Hudson and Jerry Carl, Baldwin County Commission Tucker Dorsey, Congressman Bradley Byrne, Mayors Dane Haygood of Daphne, Tim Kant of Fairhope, and John Koniar of Foley are all headed to England.

“We need to be there with Airbus executives so they can introduce us to their tier one, tier two suppliers,” said Stimpson. “It’s very important that we be there.”

The Airbus assembly facility continues to take shape at the Brookley aeroplex, but so far only one associated business has located there, Safron Engineering. Economic developers are not surprised. They say Airbus won’t attract suppliers to Mobile like Mercedes did near Tuscaloosa or Hyundai did in Montgomery.

“There’s a significant difference in producing 300,000 cars a year and 48 airplanes,” said Troy Wayman of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. “ There’s not the economies-of-scale for some of the suppliers. Now as Airbus ramps up their prod from rate four, four a month, to rate 8 and beyond, I think we’ll see more and more of that supplier activity.”

Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson agrees, having visited the Airbus facility in Hamburg, Germany in 2013.

“When we visited Hamburg, they added 40,000 jobs but it was over a 40 year period,” said Hudson.

“So it didn’t happen overnight. But it will pick up.”

And so the Mobile-area group will press the aerospace flesh next week in England.

At this point, meetings have been set up with more than two dozen companies.

“Right now we have about 25 scheduled appointments and we’re dividing that up amongst the representation from the Mobile area and we’re going to make the best use of those,’ said Wayman.

“You can’t take anybody for granted,” said Richardson. “You can’t stay home and say, ‘They know we’re down here. They’re coming.’ No. We’re going to go and we’re going to present our program to them.”

The Mobile area delegation is part of a 90-plus member Alabama delegation. They will attend meetings and receptions Sunday thru Wednesday.


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