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Mobile Bay Delegation in Paris

As readers are waking up in Mobile and Baldwin counties this morning, a small delegation of elected officials and business leaders have spent their first morning of the Paris Air Show in meetings getting ready for Monday’s official show opening.

 

Just a few hours ago, Gov. Kay Ivey kicked off events with a welcome meeting co-hosted with the Alabama Department of Commerce. Following it, Team Mobile held its final strategy session to overview upcoming meetings with aerospace executives over the next several days.

 

In advance of the show, I asked key partners in Mobile and Baldwin counties a series of questions ranging from strategy and outcomes for this year’s show. Their answers are below.

 

Over the next week, follow the Mobile Area Chamber’s blog, and our social media pages as we bring you photos, videos and recaps from the air show. If you have any questions about the show, or our work while here, just shoot me an email at lherndon@mobilechamber.com and I’ll try to get them answered as quickly as possible. Thanks for reading and following us!

Connie Hudson, Mobile County Commission

What is your primary objective while attending the Paris Air Show?

My primary objective is to promote Mobile County as an economic development hub where public-private partnerships are encouraged and nurtured. Our business-friendly environment has been key to the recruitment and location of more than 40 international companies to the Mobile area.

 

This is the seventh Team Mobile air show since 2012. How is the tone of this show different than previous trips?

Our Airbus success story has continued to evolve since 2012 with the completion of the Final Assembly Line and the ramping up in A320 family passenger jet production. In promoting Mobile and coastal Alabama we can now speak from the vantage point of our successful experiences in developing relationships with potential economic development partners.

 

How does the county plans to capitalize on the connections available at the show.

The show is one of the largest trade exhibitions in the world and involves thousands of exhibitors from companies all over the globe associated with the aviation and aerospace industry. It offers Team Mobile a unique opportunity to meet and associate with key international players and potential business partners during the event to best promote the Mobile area.

 

How would you characterize Team Mobile’s profile at this year’s show, and how does that compare to other recruiting trips?

Team Mobile is well represented on this recruiting trip in sectors including local government, chamber economic development officials, the airport authority, representatives from higher education, and private business. Past recruiting trips have also included representatives from these sectors.

 

What is the most important aspect of this show and Southwest Alabama’s presence there that the world needs to understand?

More than 2,300 exhibitors and 200,000 attendees provide a tremendous opportunity to showcase southwest Alabama and Mobile County. I’m pleased that Gov. Kay Ivey is attending also along with Greg Canfield, Alabama’s Secretary of Commerce to represent our state. We will use this opportunity to network, to establish new business relationships, to strengthen existing industry partnerships and foremost to promote southwest Alabama’s profile as a great place to live and to do business.

 

Lee Lawson, Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance

What is your primary objective while attending the 2107 Paris Air Show?

Our plan is to connect with many aerospace decision makers and communicate to them our value proposition as an aerospace community. It is also a time to touch base with companies that we have existing relationships with to hear from them and update them on our success and opportunities in South Alabama.


This is the seventh air show Mobile and Baldwin counties have partnered on. How is the tone of this show different than previous trips?

I equate this partnership to a marathon run, and I feel as if we are hitting our stride in our region as it relates to this show and aerospace activity, company growth and expansion. So the tone of this show is not a sprint or trying to catch our breath, but we are comfortably out front working regionally together to set a strong pace and tone for aerospace growth in the Mobile region.

 

How does BCEDA plans to capitalize on the connections available at this show?

With the announcement of United Technologies Aerospace Systems great expansion last year, there truly is no greater value proposition testimonial than a world renowned aerospace company choosing Baldwin County to invest and grow their business. Through this growth opportunity and our continued work in the aerospace industry in the last decade, we plan to capitalize on these connections with UTAS’s third party validation of our region.

 

What is the most important aspect of this show and Southwest Alabama’s presence there that locals need to understand? 

The work plan of the show is what Baldwin EDA and the Mobile Area Chamber do day-in and day-out. Connect with business decision makers, communicate our value proposition as a place to locate or expand and develop our communities successfully for high paying new job creation. The show provides a forum and venue where the decision makers in the aerospace industry all gather in one place. The access and ability to interact connect and communicate our region’s worth and value to this industry is the most important aspect of our joint regional presence in Paris.

 

Mark McVay, Mobile Airport Authority

What is your primary objective while attending the 2017 Paris Air Show?

My primary objective while attending the Paris Air Show is to help Mobile capitalize on the momentum we have in the aerospace industry by attracting more capital investments and jobs to our area. Along with the rest of Team Mobile, I plan to take advantage of my time with industry executives building relationships, sharing our story, and listening to their needs.

 

This is the seventh Team Mobile air show outing since 2012. Is the tone of this show different than previous trips, and how so?

From my perspective it is different.  Mobile is still a young aerospace community, but we have grown quite a bit over the past five years. We are nurturing relationships with 20-plus aerospace companies already in Mobile in an effort to gain more of their business in the future. When any of these companies plan to begin an expansion in North America, we obviously want Mobile to be their choice. We will also seek new opportunities with companies not yet located in here.

 

How does MAA plans to capitalize on the connections available at this show.

The show provides us with the unique opportunity to meet face to face with many Aerospace Executives from all over the world over about a four-day period. The more you visit with people face to face, the more you get to know each other. I cannot stress how important relationships are. We are always listening for opportunities, but it is actually rewarding and a lot of fun to make friendships in this very cool industry with people from all over the world. We will be sharing our past successes and how uniquely positioned Brookley is in particular to become the next great aerospace cluster in North America.

 

How many aerospace-related companies are currently located on the Brookley site? For readers who may not be aware, is there still space available for additional capacity?

We have about 20 aerospace-related companies currently located at Brookley. We have plenty of space for new companies and for expansions of existing industry. Brookley was an air force Base that had 17,000 workers on-site back in the 1960’s, so we have plenty of room to grow.

 

Sandy Stimpson, City of Mobile

What is your primary objective while attending the 2017 Paris Air Show?

One word: Jobs. You can’t be any more specific than that. Mobile has a generational opportunity because of Airbus and we are 100 percent focused on making the most of that opportunity. Aerospace jobs are some of the most highly-skilled, highest paying jobs in the world, and the competition for them is fierce. We’re here to recruit them to Mobile.

 

How does the city plan to capitalize on the connections available at this show?

Business is all about relationships. To be successful, we must build upon our existing relationships and while constantly working to establish new ones. The great thing about the air show is that it’s a unique opportunity to network with top-level executives from the leading aerospace firms. Mobile has a great story to tell, and this is the best possible audience to share it with.

 

Now that Airbus is in Mobile and assembling planes, what’s next? Does attention turn to focusing on recruiting another company in the aerospace cluster to Mobile, or to potential Airbus suppliers?

It’s actually both, and I’d add a third target which is Airbus itself. Part of our strategy is to continue recruiting Airbus because there are tremendous opportunities for Mobile beyond assembly of the A320 family. The great thing about that is, nobody knows what we’re capable of in Mobile better than Airbus.

 

What’s the most important thing you’d want Mobilians to understand about the air show, and why the mayor is in Paris for a couple days?

We like to say that, when it comes to aerospace, even the sky is not the limit for where Mobile can go. Future generations will look back at this time in our history and hopefully be able to say that we made the most of the opportunity we were given. Paris is just a step on that journey.

 

Troy Wayman, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce

What is your primary objective while attending the 2017 Paris Air Show?

The air show is always about nurturing relationships and building new ones. As our capabilities in the aerospace world continue to grow, we become more and more attractive to companies looking to share services, training and workforce. Our objective this year is to continue to tell the Mobile story to our existing contacts, new contacts and visit with our existing industries with a global presence and discuss opportunities for growth and expansion.

 

This is the seventh Team Mobile air show since 2012. How is the tone of this show different than previous trips?

Each year, the tone of the air show grows a bit more comfortable. As Airbus was making their decision to locate in Mobile, the world watched with interest. Since that decision was made and the facility moved from construction, to completion, to now a rate of more than 3 assemblies per month, Mobile’s place on the world stage has grown from relative obscurity to a strong supporting if not leading role. As we take advantage of that notoriety, we are being strategic in our approach to selling Mobile as the place to be for aerospace. We continue to carefully leverage the world class presence of companies like VT MAE, Continental Motors, Hutchison, and of course, Airbus.

 

How does the Mobile Area Chamber plan to capitalize on the connections available at this show?

We plan to maintain the relationships built at the airshow and use those relationships and contacts to further our strategy to grow our aerospace presence in Mobile. We work directly with our existing aerospace companies to develop plans and approaches for our economic development strategies. Our existing companies have a great story to tell, and the more we can help them tell that story to other companies, the better off we will be.

 

How would you characterize Team Mobile’s profile at PAS 2017 this year, and how does that compare to other recruiting trips?

Mobile’s profile has grown significantly over the past several years. Mobile is now a known entity. We co-host a reception for aerospace executives with partners in Mobile and Baldwin counties that has become a “must attend” event, and our story has become one of a place where aerospace business happens. This year we can add to the story while talking about Airbus now producing three planes per month – ahead of schedule – and Mobile has worked to make that happen.

 

What is the absolute most important aspect of this show and Southwest Alabama’s presence there that the world needs to understand?

We must remain the forefront of the discussion in the aerospace world for any companies looking for potential locations in the Southeast U.S. We can’t rest on our laurels, we must continuously push forward, move, grow. We are at a great time for economic development in Mobile, and we need to capitalize in as many ways as possible.