Airbus could impact county

Published 4:17 pm Monday, July 2, 2012

Escambia County is just less than an hour up the Interstate from Brookley Field, where Airbus is expected to turn out four airplanes per month once it ramps up production on its new Mobile facility.

That proximity puts the region “excellent shape” to attract a supplier for the facility, area officials said.

Airbus’ Monday announcement was held in Mobile about the new plant which is expected to employ 1,000 people and produce 40 to 50 aircraft per year by 2018. The facility will build the family of A319, A320 and A321 aircraft.

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Jim Searcy, executive director of Coastal Gateway Economic Development Alliance, said the project will be positive for Mobile and the entire region.

Not only is there a possibility for suppliers to locate in communities within the Coastal Gateway region — which includes Escambia, Conecuh, Monroe, Clarke and Choctaw counties — but for construction contractors to help build the plant, Searcy said.

“Initially, they are going to provide 2,500 construction jobs,” he said. “That could be an opportunity for some of our companies doing subcontracting work, and there may be some opportunity for our skilled trades here.”

Searcy said he predicts there will be “concentric rings” around the Airbus facility with different levels of suppliers for the plant.

“We’re excited,” he said. “We’ve got excellent sites and transportation in Escambia County and throughout our region.”

While Mobile County was disappointed once before when EADS lost a military tanker contract to rival Boeing — after some political maneuvering — Searcy said the Airbus project is a done deal.