MOBILE, Alabama — What began as “Project Hope” became a reality on Monday as Airbus announced plans to construct a $600 million aircraft assembly plant in Mobile, giving the European company its first factory on American soil and ushering in a new era of jet production in the historic port city.
Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier said the company will assemble its A320 family of aircraft at the Brookley Aeroplex, employing 1,000 at full capacity and creating thousands more jobs at parts suppliers and other related businesses expected to locate near the plant.
“The town is right, the talent is right and the time is right,” Bregier said to raucous applause from hundreds gathered at a campaign-style rally in downtown Mobile. “Airbus is going to make world-beating A320 family of aircraft, right here in the United States of America.”
Airbus said it will break ground on the massive factory next summer and create more than 3,000 jobs during a two-year construction period. The plant is slated to deliver its first planes in 2016, and will be ramped up to full production of 40-50 planes annually by 2018.
Alabama will contribute $158 million in cash, tax breaks and other incentives toward the project, according to the state Department of Commerce. That includes $125 million in state incentives plus $33 million from city and county governments, according to Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. That money will pay for site preparation, new roads, worker training and other costs, Canfield said.
Airbus declined to comment on the incentives, referring questions about the package to state officials. But the company said the decision to invest in Alabama wasn’t purely financial.
“It was first and foremost a strategic move,” Bregier said. “We needed to be visible in the United States. … Our customers were telling us, ‘Why don’t you get closer to us?’ This will put us closer to them.”
Bregier also said the company “felt comfortable here, felt supported here. It is a true partnership.”
Gov. Robert Bentley said Airbus “recognized all that this state can offer expanding industries.”
“Alabama has the best workforce you’ll find anywhere in the U.S.,” he said. “When Airbus aircraft take to the skies, our pride and workmanship will soar along with them.” From: AL.com By: George Talbot July 2, 2o12