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Canfield heads state group at Paris Air Show

Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield is leading a group of economic development specialists from across Alabama at the 2023 Paris Air Show as part of a strategic effort to accelerate growth in the state’s important aerospace and defense sector.

Canfield said the Paris Air Show represents a prime opportunity for the Alabama team to engage in scheduled appointments and informal talks with key industry decision-makers over several days.

“At this event in Paris, we can showcase Alabama’s impressive advantages and capabilities in the aerospace sector while positioning the state for significant new investment and job creation,” he said.

“Our team can renew relationships and connect with companies from around the world at a single location, without having to travel all over the globe for talks.”

While at the Paris Air Show, Secretary Canfield and Bob Smith, the Alabama Department of Commerce’s point man on aerospace, are expected to engage in pre-arranged appointments and impromptu discussions with industry executives.

In the past, these talks have featured companies such as Boeing, Airbus, GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance.

Advancing relationships

Commerce’s small working team is joined in Paris by economic development specialists from cities around the state including Huntsville, Mobile, Birmingham, Montgomery and Auburn/Opelika.

The event officially begins today at Le Bourget Airport near Paris. The trade show portion of the 2019 Paris Air Show attracted nearly 140,000 professionals and 2,400 exhibitors from 49 countries in over 1.3 million square feet of exhibition space.

The Paris Air Show and its relative, the Farnborough International Airshow, represent the most important annual aerospace industry gatherings, with billions of dollars in business transactions announced each year. An estimated $140 billion in industry orders were announced during the 2019 Paris Air Show, the last installment of the biennial event.

Economic developers say having a presence at these events is critical to efforts to land aerospace jobs and investment.

“The Paris Air Show gives the Alabama team access to senior-level aerospace, defense and aviation industry executives, allowing us to advance valuable relationships that can produce job-creating investment in our state,” said Smith, who serves as Commerce’s assistant director of business development — European strategy.

“We can use these talks to reinforce messages that Alabama possesses advantages and capabilities for companies seeking to realize their long-term growth potential,” he added.

In addition to the business recruitment team, Commerce’s Office of International Trade will be represented at the Paris Air Show, along with three Alabama-based companies exhibiting their products in the “Made in the USA” Zone in the U.S. Pavilion.

“To be able to support Alabama small businesses at the largest air show and aerospace-industry exhibition event in the world is invaluable to these companies,” said Christina Stimpson, the trade office’s director. “The contacts and meetings made during the trade show will lead to important connections and exports for Alabama.”

The companies are Archangel Systems (Auburn), Adah International (Birmingham) and SEPCO (Alabaster). Their representatives will also engage in prequalified business-to-business meetings while in Paris.

Air Show connections

The air show mission comes at a time of robust growth for Alabama’s broad-based aerospace industry, whose activities include aircraft assembly, rocket development, maintenance and overhaul, raw material production, R&D and flight training, along with much more.

Last year, aerospace and defense companies announced plans for nearly $1.2 billion in new capital investment in Alabama, spurring the creation of over 1,500 anticipated jobs, according to data from the Alabama Department of Commerce.

One of those growing companies is California-based defense contractor Kratos, which announced plans at the 2022 Farnborough Airshow to expand its advanced concept group in Birmingham with 76 new hires. The site works on hypersonics and materials testing in extreme environments, among other things.

Discussions at previous European air shows have kick-started important Alabama investment projects from GE Aviation, GKN Aerospace and other aerospace and defense companies.

Several companies, including BAE SystemsCarpenter Technology Corp. and Winkelmann Group announced Alabama growth plans at European air shows in recent years.

“We’ve attended the Paris Air Show for years as it gives us the opportunity to meet with top executives of our aerospace-related companies and talk to decision-makers of other industries from all over the world. This is the premier event in aerospace this year,” said Phillip Dunlap, director of economic development for the City of Auburn.

“We are grateful for the leadership of Governor Kay Ivey and the excellent work by the team from the Department of Commerce to market Alabama’s importance in the aviation, space and defense industries.”

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)


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