Local Economic Development Leaders Head to Hamburg

850 Business Magazine website will provide updates on meetings with Airbus and aerospace supplier companies

Dozens of Northwest Florida economic development leaders are headed to Hamburg, Germany, this weekend to learn more about Airbus and how to attract European-based aerospace supplier companies to this region.

And 850 — The Business Magazine of Northwest Florida is going to make sure that business leaders across the region keep abreast of key developments from the trip by posting videos and blogs from the event on our website (www.850businessmagazine.com) before, during and after the visit.

Five counties — Bay, Walton, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Escambia — have formed the Gulf Coast Aerospace Coalition to promote Northwest Florida’s strategic location for aerospace suppliers. Not only are the five the closest Florida counties to the new Airbus assembly plant slated for Mobile, Ala., (just 50 miles west of Pensacola), but they are also well placed to service the recent expansion of aviation original equipment manufacturer (OEM) plants throughout the Southeast. 

Members of the coalition this week have already attended the Global Aerospace Supply Chain Conference in Hamburg and are planning individual meetings around Europe with aerospace-related companies. On Monday, they will convene in the first International Aerospace Industry Forum for Northwest Florida Leadership to understand Airbus’ potential impact on this region. The series of meetings is expected to provide critical insight into the needs of aerospace supplier companies, including specialized training for workers.

“All of a sudden, the Southeastern U.S. has become ground zero for major aerospace assembly and Northwest Florida sits somewhat at the center of activity,” explained Neal Wade, executive director of the Bay Economic Development Alliance. 

“Economic development is planting seeds in the ground of the future that, if watered and nurtured periodically, can produce fruit in the form of new, good-paying jobs. Northwest Florida certainly has the ingredients necessary to compete for aerospace/aviation jobs. And having 40 of our region’s leaders more informed about the potential and the steps necessary to be successful will be advantageous to the process.”

The two-day leadership forum, to be held Monday, Dec. 9, and Tuesday, Dec. 10, will focus on the: potential for growth and expansion of the European aerospace industry; education and skills training expectations of German/European manufacturers; competitiveness factors for success in attracting aerospace suppliers; and international cultural protocol.

The economic development directors in the five counties have partnered with Gulf Power Company and PowerSouth Energy Cooperative to develop a plan to market the region to the aerospace industry. Much will be done in concert with Enterprise Florida and Florida’s Great Northwest.

“With several thousand exiting the military each year in Northwest Florida, we have the foundation of a trainable workforce,” Wade said. “The educational system is beginning to develop specific training programs that focus on aerospace, even dipping into high school to attract those students who might want to begin apprentice programs, take college training and move directly into the workforce.”

Included in the briefings is a tour of Airbus operations and Lufthansa Technik. There will also be meetings with the director of Hamburg Aviation, the Federal Association of the German Aerospace Industry Association and BVMW–German Association for Small and Medium Sized Businesses.

For more information, contact: Linda Kleindienst, 850 Editor, at (850) 878-0554 or lkleindienst@rowlandpublishing.com.

Categories: Science & Tech