1 year ago

Alabama aerospace exports surge as industry growth gains pace

Exports of Alabama-made aerospace products and parts increased in markets around the world last year, as the industry continued to invest in the state. The growth comes amid strategic efforts to expand Alabama’s aerospace presence.

The total value of the shipments, which went to 97 countries, rose to $2.4 billion, a 28 percent increase from the previous year. It’s also nearly $1 billion higher than 2016’s total, according to figures from the Alabama Department of Commerce.

The state ranked No. 12 in the U.S. for aerospace exports, showing the greatest year-over-year increase, except for North Carolina.

“The aerospace industry in Alabama is thriving, with companies developing new technologies and advanced products that are highly sought after by customers across the globe,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“As exports continue to grow, so do the jobs and investments created by these companies in communities around the state.”

Secretary Canfield was among a group of Alabama economic development specialists engaging in pre-arranged appointments with industry leaders at the 2019 Paris Air Show, which kicked off on Monday.

ALABAMA EXPORTERS

Earlier this year, three firms involved in exporting aerospace products were among the eight winners of the 2019 Governor’s Trade Excellence Awards, offering a glimpse of the success and breadth of the firms and products behind the trade numbers.

Mobile-based Aerostar provides component maintenance on civilian aircraft, with customers in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. The company has grown from two employees in 2011 to 35 now, and it plans to reach 60. Aerostar is targeting new business in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific Rim.

Another winner was RMCI Inc. of Huntsville, which developed a system that tracks the mechanical health of aircraft and has analyzed data from more than 3,000 helicopters. RMCI targets business in Colombia, New Zealand, Morocco, Spain, France, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore, the Netherlands and Malaysia.

And GKN Aerospace-Alabama, a prominent and longtime member of the state’s aerospace industry, continues to flourish in Tallassee, where more than 800 employees produce composite aerostructures for major aerospace industry partners, such as Bell Helicopter, Sikorsky, HondaJet, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and GE Aviation.

RISING EXPORTS

The trade data for 2018 demonstrate the continuing popularity of Alabama’s aerospace exports, said Hilda Lockhart, director of the Commerce Department’s International Trade Office.

Germany was the top market for exports of Alabama-made aerospace products and parts, as the value of shipments increased nearly 98 percent to $378 million. The rest of the Top 5 looked like this:

• India: $348 million, a surge of 110 percent
• France: $332 million, an increase of 28 percent
• China: $182 million, a jump of 332 percent
• Canada: $134 million, a decline of 8 percent

Lockhart said she believes many of the increases are related to military and defense spending.

“With so much tension and unrest in the global marketplace, it seems that many countries are increasing their defense budgets,” she said. “Also, the civilian aircraft market is growing at a very rapid pace, so the global outlook is good.

“The demand comes from the rise in passenger and freight traffic, along with improved global trade.”
The effect of proposed U.S. tariffs on these numbers is uncertain, she added, but the forecasted industry trends are promising.

“In addition to the size of markets growing in this industry, the demand for fleet replacements are expected to help boost aircraft production,” Lockhart said. “Manufacturers are trying to fill backlog orders that remain at an all-time high. There has been an increase in defense spending in China, India and Japan, which is also helping drive the growth.

“Thus, the demand for more aerospace parts will grow and the supply chain will be stretched.”

GROWTH MARKETS

Among the top-growing future markets for Alabama, Lockhart singled out India, China and France.
Alabama is ranked No. 3 in the U.S. for aerospace exports to India, which included civilian aircraft, engines and parts in 2018.

With a $16 billion market, India is the fastest-growing and currently the ninth largest civil aviation market in the world. By 2025, it is expected to become the third-largest aviation market, and the demand for new aircraft could be as high as 2,000 planes over the next two decades.

Lockhart said the U.S. and India are working together to strengthen trade ties. India wants more connectivity within the country for regional, tourism and medical reasons.

China has the second-largest defense budget after the U.S., and that budget is expected to continue to grow. The country’s aerospace market is forecast at more than $150 billion by 2020.

Alabama’s exports to China have been rising rapidly each year, although they are down 50 percent for this year’s first quarter, amid the ongoing tariff issue.

As for France, Alabama ranked No. 11 in the nation for aerospace exports to this market. The ties between the state and the country keep growing as French aircraft manufacturer Airbus continues to build up its Mobile operations.
Last year, Airbus announced it would add a second production line for A220 aircraft in Mobile. Read an update on the A220 project.

“I’m sure this relationship will grow for two-way trade with Airbus now in the state,” Lockhart said.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

9 hours ago

Alabama Power sends hundreds of linemen, support personnel to assist after Tropical Storm Isaias hammered East Coast

Tropical Storm Isaias hit the eastern coast of the United States hard this week, leaving millions of Americans without power while producing high winds, heavy rain and tornadoes.

In the wake of the storm’s wrath, Alabama Power Company on Wednesday morning sent 133 lineworkers and 94 support personnel to New Jersey to assist utility FirstEnergy in its storm response.

A release from the company outlined that Alabama Power upon arrival will support FirstEnergy subsidiary Jersey Central Power and Light, which serves 1.1 million customers in the central and northern parts of the Garden State.

In addition to directly supporting FirstEnergy, Alabama Power advised that it released more than 325 contract lineworkers to assist in storm restoration at various other utilities along the East Coast.

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“Our crews are prepped and ready to offer assistance in the restoration efforts following Tropical Storm Isaias,” stated Kristie Barton, Alabama Power Company’s power delivery services general manager.

“As soon as it is safe to do so, which includes observing all of our COVID-19 safe practices protocol, we’ll be working to restore power as quickly as possible,” she continued.

The company’s help was reportedly coordinated through the mutual assistance program of the Southeastern Electric Exchange, a trade association comprised of several member utilities.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 hours ago

Ivey named to leadership of National Governors Association

The National Governors Association (NGA) on Wednesday announced its new executive committee for 2020-2021, with Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) becoming chair of the association that represents the 55 leaders of all American states and territories.

Members of the executive committee were elected during the NGA summer meeting, which was held in a virtual format this year.

Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) was one of the governors elected to the nine-member executive committee.

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“I’m honored to have been elected to serve on the [NGA] Executive Committee for 2020-21,” Ivey said in a Wednesday tweet. “I look forward to working with my fellow governors to develop initiatives & policies to support our country now & in the future.”

The NGA recently highlighted Alabama’s workforce development efforts under the Ivey administration as a model for other states to emulate.

Ivey assumed the governor’s office on April 10, 2017. In November 2018, she was elected to her first full term as Alabama’s chief executive. That term will expire in January 2023. Ivey could seek reelection in 2022.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 hours ago

Mo Brooks: Democrats are banking on creating more moochers in 2020

The latest stimulus bill in Congress is tied up for many reasons, but a major sticking point appears to be the continuation of a $600 a week unemployment booster on top of what states already pay in benefits.

With the current impasse, there is currently no bonus to be given to those who are unemployed.

This is creating a battle between those who want to keep the bonus payment going for the foreseeable future and those who believe that the high payment is keeping people from vigorously re-entering the job market.

The stalemate in Washington, D.C. will eventually break. Some form of sweetener will be included, and the battle for stimulus will move on to the next bill.

U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) views this battle as part of the larger ideological battle in the United States.

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Brooks appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” on Wednesday and referred to the Democratic Party as “the moocher party.” He said he believes this disconnect all started in the 1960s when Democrats embraced the idea of the “Great Society.”

Brooks opined, “Democrats have discovered that’s a huge voting block that they get in elections, so one way to win an election is to turn more independent, self-reliant voters into moochers.”

The congressman from Huntsville believes this is nothing new and noted how political it all is.

“Democrats perceive that that’s going to help them tremendously in the 2020 elections just a few months from now,” he advised.

My takeaway:

Brooks, of course, is right.

The argument from the media and their Democrats is always going to be some version of: “We want to give you [this] and they don’t because they want you to die.”

Free healthcare, free childcare, free college education, and it never stops.

Stopping any of this is the equivalent of kicking a baby in the face and taking its food.

Democrats have bought into this idea for years, and in the time of rampant unemployment and a pandemic, they will kick their grievance politics into full gear to gain new power.

The House, Senate and presidency are at risk this year. Republicans can give in and extend the $600 unemployment benefit (they will), and Democrats will just move to the next free item.

In 2020, this strategy might work.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

12 hours ago

Dollar General opens 450,000 square foot distribution center in Montgomery

Budget shopping chain Dollar General on Wednesday announced the opening of its large, new cold storage distribution center in Montgomery.

The 450,000 square foot facility is the product of a $26 million investment for the company and will support around 65 new jobs in the River Region.

The Montgomery facility is cold storage, meaning it is designed to store goods that must be kept chilled like milk and deli products.

“Welcome to Montgomery Dollar General, thank you for investing in our state and in our people,” said Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday during a digital event celebrating the facility being opened.

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“We are incredibly grateful for the tremendous support from both state and local officials who helped make this project happen,” remarked Rod West, Dollar General’s vice president of perishables growth and development.

The low-cost retailer opened its first store in Alabama in 1965 and now has around 800 retail locations in the Yellowhammer State.

“Dollar General is a trusted company with a long history in Alabama,” said Elton Dean, Montgomery County Commission chairman, in a statement on Monday.

“The River Region has a lot to offer, and we are thrilled that this esteemed organization, that does business across the country, recognizes that,” Dean added.

Dollar General also has a traditional distribution center in Bessemer and claims to employ approximately 8,100 Alabamians in total.

Montgomery’s new distribution center is located on Mobile Highway, around 15 minutes southwest of downtown.

“We welcome Dollar General and look forward to years of partnership and progress to come,” commented Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed on Wednesday,

The company says it will support around 1,500 stores in surrounding areas and help spur the “DG Fresh” initiative “which is a strategic multi-phased shift to self-distribution of frozen and refrigerated goods such as dairy, deli and frozen products” according to a release.

“We are confident that Dollar General recognized our strong workforce and business-friendly environment when choosing a location for this facility. We are excited to welcome Dollar General and countless companies to come, to grow in Montgomery,” concluded Arthur DuCote, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce chairman.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

12 hours ago

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate

The Alabama Forestry Association (AFA) on Wednesday announced its endorsement of Republican nominee Tommy Tuberville in the Yellowhammer State’s 2020 U.S. Senate race.

Tuberville, after defeating former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in last month’s GOP primary runoff, is set to face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November’s general election. The AFA had endorsed Sessions in the runoff contest.

In a statement, AFA executive vice president Chris Isaacson said, “We are proud to endorse Tommy Tuberville in the United States Senate race. He is a conservative with an impressive list of accomplishments, and we know that he will continue that record in his role as U.S. Senator.”

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“Tommy knows that decisions made in Washington impact families and businesses and will be an effective voice for the people of Alabama,” he concluded.

This comes as another major endorsement for Tuberville from the agribusiness community. The Alabama Farmers Federation endorsed the former Auburn University football coach last year and has been credited as being integral along his path to securing the Republican nomination.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association. The AFA is an excellent organization that stands for pro-business policies. Protecting Alabama industry is a key to our state’s success,” Tuberville stated.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn