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Panhandle Coalition Heading to Europe for Aerospace Pitch


A five-county coalition has formed in an effort to land an aerospace company for the Panhandle, Bay County Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Neal Wade announced Thursday.

The Gulf Coast Aerospace Coalition will include economic development leaders from Bay, Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties in an attempt to lure European aerospace supplier companies to Northwest Florida.

“This is the type of aggressive strategy we must employ to compete with other states in the Southeast,” Wade said. “Bay County is primed for manufacturing growth and an aerospace project can locate on industrial sites almost anywhere in the county.”

According to Wade, the coalition believes the Gulf Coast’s proximity to major aircraft suppliers in the South —including the Airbus facility in Mobile, Ala., Boeing in Charleston, S.C., Gulfstream in Savannah, Ga., and Embraer in Melbourne and Jacksonville — add to the potential for landing a major aerospace supplier in Northwest Florida.

The coalition also noted the proximity to Interstates 10 and 95 as potential draws to the area.

In December, the coalition will travel to Airbus’ headquarters in Hamburg, Germany, to the assembly site for the Airbus A320 aircraft.

The coalition will attend the Global Aerospace Supply Chain Conference in Hamburg on Dec. 4-5, and a Northwest Florida Leadership Forum will be held in Hamburg on Dec. 8-11. The forum will bring together community and business leaders from the area and from Hamburg to discuss the needs of the companies and what the area can provide. The session will concentrate 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.

Wade said two groups of economic development professionals will hold meetings with aerospace-related companies to better understand the company’s potential plans for expanding into the U.S. and explain the Gulf Coast’s assets and present a business case for Northwest Florida.

The objective of this strategy is to bolster Northwest Florida’s visibility, according to Wade, who has been pushing to bring an aerospace company to the area for more than a year.

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