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A massive Muscle Shoals industrial facility is set to receive new life as aerospace hub

AE Industrial Partners — an aerospace, defense and industrial services private equity firm based out of Boca Raton, Florida and its affiliate Rocket Shoals — have acquired what was formerly the site of National Steel Car with plans to reinvent the Colbert County location as an “aerospace center of excellence.”

The facility, which is 2.27 million square feet and sits on a 638-acre property, is well suited for aerospace manufacturing, according to AE co-CEO David Rowe.

“We look forward to building an aerospace center of excellence in the Shoals that that benefits the community, the state of Alabama, and our portfolio companies,” Rowe said.

“AE Industrial is a highly focused investment firm, with a strategy to drive value creation at the nexus of the aerospace, space and defense markets – all sectors that are currently thriving in Alabama.”

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Kevin Jackson, president of the Shoals Economic Development Authority, offered an optimistic perspective on what the move could mean for the economy of Muscle Shoals.

“We are so excited to work along the talented team at Rocket Shoals. This transaction opens the doors to many new possibilities for The Shoals. We can’t wait to get started on this new endeavor opening up Northwest Alabama as an aerospace destination,” Jackson said.

Chris Emerson, Senior Partner at AE Industrial talked about the fact that Alabama has become a destination for aerospace engineering.

“We are proud to call Alabama home as we expand several of our marquee companies in the Shoals area. Our collective experiences with past projects, including Mercedes-Benz and the Airbus final assembly line in Mobile, give us confidence in our strong regional relationships and ability to engage with local partners to establish north Alabama as an ‘aerospace corridor’,” Emerson said.

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Over 300 aerospace companies from more than 30 different countries have operations in Alabama, including industry giants such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation and Raytheon, according to data from the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Alabama’s aerospace sector is robust and ideally positioned for growth because of its many capabilities,” said Ellen McNair, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“I look forward to seeing how AEI’s plans for an aerospace hub in the Shoals area can contribute to the industry’s growth curve,” she added.

Michael Brauner is a Senior Sports Analyst and Contributing Writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @MBraunerWNSP

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