KC-45 Contract Is The Region's "First Priority"
Governor Bob Riley (R-AL), Governor
Haley Barbour (R-MS), and Governor Bobby Jindal (R- LA) announced
the launch of The Aerospace Alliance Monday. The organization is a
501(c)(6) private/public organization that the governors hope will
establish the Gulf Coast and surrounding region as a world class
aerospace, space and aviation corridor. The announcement was made
before hundreds of supporters at an event in Bay Minette,
The members of The Aerospace Alliance include business leaders,
economic development professionals and government officials. By
promoting their common assets and the region's long-standing
tradition of excellence in the aerospace industry, participating
states and organizations will seize opportunities to grow the
sector, attracting more jobs and suppliers to the region. Members
will advocate for policies, programs and specific aerospace
projects on the local, state and national level.
The Gulf Coast region is already home to some of the world's
most advanced aerospace installations, a number of key NASA
facilities and numerous military installations critical to the
Department of Defense flight missions and training. The region is
centrally located to markets across the United States and offers
access to global markets via numerous air and deep water ports.
Governor Bob Riley
The first priority of The Aerospace Alliance is to help secure
the KC-45 aerial tanker program for the region. If the KC-45
aircraft is selected, the tankers will be assembled in Mobile,
Alabama, bringing 48,000 direct and indirect jobs to the country,
and thousands of direct and indirect jobs to the region. With the
tanker program, the region would be one of the largest in the world
to build large-body aircraft, along with France and the Pacific
Northwest. The Aerospace Alliance will identify, educate, organize
and activate allies to aggressively communicate why the KC-45 is
the best solution for the warfighter, for the Gulf Coast and
surrounding region, and ultimately for the United States.
Governor Haley Barbour
While the KC-45 is the first priority for The Aerospace
Alliance, it is not the only one. Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana
and Florida are currently home to manufacturers of helicopters,
missile defense systems, composite aircraft structures, engine
components and many R&D firms. The Aerospace Alliance will
collaborate to working towards growing these aerospace, aviation,
space and defense industries in the region.
Governor Riley said, "Last year taught us something: while we
all know about our long tradition of aerospace excellence and the
quality and skillsets of our workforce, obviously some parts of the
country (Kansas and Washington State), might not be aware. We are
going to educate them, and you are going to help us. We will work
together to promote our region's many assets. We will work together
to advocate for policies, programs and specific aerospace projects
on the local, state and national level. The programs we attract
will in turn attract suppliers, bringing even more jobs and
development. Our first initiative is to win the KC-45 tanker, our
first lesson is Geography -- Mobile, Alabama and the Gulf Coast
States are part of the U.S. and our jobs are American."
Governor Bobby Jindal
"This alliance will go far in promoting our region for what it
is - one of the largest aerospace corridors in the world and a
great place for companies in this sector to do business," said
Governor Barbour, who addressed the event via video uplink.
"The Gulf Coast states share geographic proximity, a long tradition
of aerospace and aviation activities and a skilled and experienced
workforce, and by joining together, we will be well-positioned to
take advantage of opportunities to grow this sector in our
Mitch Waldman, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems Vice President
applauded their efforts, saying, "We already know that the Gulf
Coast is a center of excellence in defense, aviation and aerospace.
We look forward to working with Governors and leaders of Aerospace
Alliance states, and the many members and supporters of The
Alliance, to spread the word to the rest of the world."
Participants emphasized the need for jobs in the region's
economy, badly damaged by both Hurricane Katrina and the recession.
Unemployment rates are high throughout the entire Southeast, and
both Alabama and Florida have unemployment over 10%.