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Alabama aerospace industry to get boost from state’s top business group

AAIA Chairman Allen Sullivan (left) and BCA Chairman Marty Abroms (right)
AAIA Chairman Allen Sullivan (left) and BCA Chairman Marty Abroms (right)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Two Alabama business associations signed a cooperation agreement this month to enhance Alabama’s aerospace business presence.

The Alabama Aerospace Industry Association and the Business Council of Alabama signed an agreement Dec. 4 in Birmingham pledging to work together for the state’s aerospace industry that generates more than $10 billion in government contracts and exports.

The agreement highlights collaboration areas such as awareness building, business network expansion, state and national communications, and training opportunities, among others. The AAIA and BCA will remain independent organizations with the intent to collaborate when and where possible.

“Through this alliance with BCA, the AAIA will be able to better serve its members as well as the diverse aerospace industry across the state,” AAIA Chairman Allen Sullivan said.

The agreement signed by Sullivan and BCA Chairman Marty Abroms solidifies the desire to coordinate, where possible, and expand the reach and impact of their organizations. The agreement was signed at the BCA’s annual board of directors meeting at the Harbert Center.

“Establishing alliances with organizations such as AAIA is one of the best strategies BCA employs to make a positive difference for Alabama industry,” Abroms said.

The AAIA and BCA agreed to align efforts to expand AAIA’s communications with business and the public, to inform aerospace companies about issues, interact with a wider audience, and offer more ways for the AAIA to engage in initiatives.

“BCA and AAIA have always been aligned in our commitment to improving opportunities for the aerospace sector and we expect this agreement will take our efforts to the next level,” said BCA president and CEO William J. Canary.

Canary is a member of the AAIA board of directors and AAIA Executive Director Jeff S. Thompson is a member of the BCA board of directors.

Aerospace companies also can benefit by leveraging the BCA’s political and legislative efforts, Sullivan said. “AAIA members realize that Alabama’s aerospace industry is important to the state and local economies and with your support, AAIA and BCA will work together to build a broader awareness across Alabama.”

It’s the second such agreement between the BCA and a valuable Alabama industry.

In an effort to help keep Alabama’s tire print on the world’s economy, the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association and the BCA earlier this year formed a similar partnership to work collaboratively to promote and enhance a positive business climate for Alabama manufacturers.

The organizations value the contribution that automotive manufacturers and their suppliers make and are working together to help Alabama’s automotive manufacturing industry grow.

Alabama’s aerospace industry began in 1910 when Orville Wright established a flying school near what became Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery.

Today, Alabama’s aerospace industry includes more than 400 companies operating in the state, employing more than 83,000 people, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Maxwell-Gunter, the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, and NASA’s George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, both in Huntsville, and the Army’s Fort Rucker helicopter base near Enterprise, employ thousands of civilians and military personnel and attract hundreds of support industries and manufacturers.

In 2012, the European aircraft consortium, Airbus, announced it would build its first American jetliner production facility in Mobile and would deliver its first passenger jets early next year. It has 1,000 jobs and an investment of $600 million.

“We are now involved in virtually every segment of the industry, meaning Alabama is positioned for any kind of project,” Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said in June prior to attending the Paris International Air Show.

Alabama’s aerospace industry is so important that many state and national officials attend the Farnborough International Air Show held in even-numbered years and the Paris Air Show held in odd-numbered years.

Alabama keeps landing aerospace business. The Department of Commerce said that Alabama in 2014 landed 12 aerospace or defense projects that will employ 1,100 men and women and result in a capital investment of $213 million.

The AAIA is a private non-profit, industry-led organization of aerospace and defense industry
leaders committed to growing business in Alabama. It was formed in 2003 and its mission is to promote
the growth of aerospace in Alabama.

The BCA is a non-partisan statewide business association formed in 1985 and representing the interests and concerns of nearly 1 million working Alabamians through its member companies and its partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama. The BCA is affiliated exclusively in Alabama with the National Association of
Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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