Officials recruit industry

Published 11:47 pm Monday, June 25, 2007

By Staff
In an effort to further build on the Southeast's growing aerospace presence, Gov. Bob Riley, Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions and I - as well as other elected officials - traveled to France for a trans-Atlantic economic development mission last week.
Many others from Alabama made the trip, including Mobile Mayor Sam Jones, Baldwin County Commissioners Wayne Gruenloh and David Ed Bishop, officials from the Mobile Chamber of Commerce and the Mobile Airport Authority, as well as some 50 business and community leaders, many who traveled at their own expense.
The trip was a great opportunity for us to sell Alabama, and there is no better salesman for our state than Gov. Riley. He led the Alabama delegation and helped introduce us to some of the key players in the aerospace and defense industries. Obviously, we have a lot at stake and a lot riding on Alabama's developing aerospace industry.
Before we went to the world's largest air show - the 47th International Paris Air Show - we stopped in Toulouse to learn more about one of the world's largest aircraft manufacturers, Airbus.
We toured the Airbus manufacturing complex, where we saw the A330 and A380 production lines. We also met with a number of officials from aerospace companies who have indicated they want to locate in south Alabama should the tanker be built in Mobile.
Make no mistake; the tanker project is important to Alabama because as you know, Northrop Grumman - in partnership with EADS North America - selected Mobile as the final assembly site for its KC-30 tanker, should the team win the $40 billion Air Force contract to replace the aging KC-135 aircraft fleet.
EADS (European Aeronautics Defence and Space Company) is the second largest aerospace and defense company in the world - as well as the parent company of Airbus - and they contribute more than $10 billion to the U.S. economy each year.
The contract, which should be awarded in October, would create some 1,000 high-paying jobs and thousands more could be expected from aircraft parts suppliers and other related businesses. The highlight of the tour of the Airbus complex was seeing the first set of wings for the KC-30, which is the Northrop Grumman/EADS team's offer for the new tanker.
Since 2001, Alabama's newest corporate partners, including Airbus, EADS and its partnerships with Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, are helping to make the Southeast the epicenter of American aerospace excellence.
The economic impact of these projects goes far beyond Alabama's borders, and our recruitment efforts have grown to reflect that regional influence.
While we won't know for a few more months whether the Northrop Grumman/EADS team will be awarded the Air Force tanker contract, it is an exciting time for the state of Alabama and certainly southwest Alabama. We are on the forefront of aviation history, all the while helping to defend our country and friends abroad.
Contact U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile at 1-800-288-8721 or visit his Web site at .

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