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Governor Ivey leads groundbreaking at Airbus’ Flight Works Alabama education center

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday joined Airbus executives, local leaders from the Mobile area and industry and educational partners in breaking ground for the coming hands-on instructional facility “Flight Works Alabama.”

In May of last year, Ivey announced plans to build the revolutionary center, with a goal to bolster the state’s workforce development efforts and inspire young Alabamians to pursue careers in aerospace. Now, construction of the facility has officially launched, with the facility due to open in late 2019.

“Aerospace is a premier industry, filled with innovative developments and high demand jobs, which are sought after by every state,” Ivey said in a press release. “Flight Works Alabama will become a hub to explore the opportunities of this industry.”

“As our state continues to grow this sector, we must show Alabamians all that the aerospace industry can offer them, today and in the years ahead,” she added.

Airbus stressed Alabama’s workforce development efforts as key to continuing success and growth.

“Success for Airbus, and any company, means we can’t just look at what we’re doing now; we need to look at what we need later—whether it be next year, next decade, or the next five decades,” Airbus Americas Chairman and CEO Jeff Knittel remarked during the ceremony.

He added, “What Airbus and other companies in our industry need to be successful in the future is a skilled, knowledgeable workforce that is ready for that future. Flight Works will help us create that workforce in a fun, creative way.”

Earlier this year, Ivey launched Success Plus – a new strategic workforce development initiative that ambitiously targets the addition of 500,000 high-skilled employees to Alabama’s workforce by 2025 – in response to increasing employer demands for the higher levels of talent needed in modern workplaces.

Success Plus aims “to improve access to educational opportunities, create pathways and defined routes that show people how to advance a career, and encourage collaboration among private and public entities.”

Airbus’ Flight Works Alabama will be an 18,000-square-foot experience center housing a large interactive exhibition area, classrooms, a collaboration room, a workshop, a restaurant and a gift shop.

Located near the campus of the company’s aircraft manufacturing facility at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, the center will also be a gateway for public tours of Airbus’ A320 family assembly line.

Airbus launched production of this type of aircraft at their Mobile manufacturing facility in 2015. The $600 million complex now produces four aircraft per month and employs more than 400 people.

In addition to the experience center, Flight Works Alabama will host educational opportunities for adults seeking new or expanded skills in the industry.

Nine education partners have importantly signed on as partners to provide these opportunities – Auburn University, Bishop State Community College, Coastal Alabama Community College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Troy University, Tuskegee University, the University of South Alabama, the University of Alabama and the University of West Alabama.

The project would also not be possible without the work of Airbus’ industry and community partners and sponsors, such as the Alabama Power Foundation, the Airbus Foundation, Conde Systems, the Mobile County Commission, Mott MacDonald, Hoar Program Management, Johnson Controls, Mech-Net, Pratt & Whitney, Safran and Snap-On, with more sponsors to come.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn