The Aerospace Industry: Cruising To A Higher Altitude

Production-related issues and order cancellations slowed the commercial aerospace sector last year, but long-term demand for passenger jets remains robust.


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Production-related issues and order cancellations slowed the commercial aerospace sector last year, but long-term demand for passenger jets remains robust.
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The Aerospace Industry: Cruising To A Higher Altitude

Production-related issues and order cancellations slowed the commercial aerospace sector last year, but long-term demand for passenger jets remains robust.

The Aerospace Industry: Cruising To A Higher Altitude

aerospace industry
Embraer Executive Jets’ Melbourne, FL production facility. (Photo: Enterprise Florida)

By the BF Staff
From the January/February 2020 Issue

The defense sector soared in 2019 as defense budgets increased. But production-related issues, cancelations and fewer orders slowed growth in the commercial aerospace sector and the global aerospace and defense industry overall, according to Deloitte’s 2020 Global Aerospace and Defense Industry Outlook.

Long-term demand for commercial aircraft and innovative technologies may determine whether 2020 will bring a robust rebound. In 2020, the A&D industry is expected to get back to its growth trajectory with the commercial aerospace sector recovering from its decline in 2019.

The defense sector has sustained its growth in 2019 as security threats have intensified, requiring governments worldwide to continue increasing their defense budgets. Defense expenditure is expected to grow between 3 and 4 percent in 2020 to reach an estimated $1.9 trillion, as governments worldwide continue to modernize and recapitalize their militaries. Most of the growth will likely be driven by increased defense spending in the United States, as well as in other regions, such as China and India.

The commercial aerospace sector has experienced a decline in deliveries in 2019 due to production-related issues in certain aircraft models. Order backlog of commercial aircraft also has decreased from the 2018 peak levels of about 14,700 aircraft to slightly more than 14,000 at the end of August 2019.

This was a result of order cancellations and a drop in new orders. [At presstime, Boeing’s troubled 737 Max remained grounded in the U.S.] However, commercial aerospace sector growth is likely to recuperate from 2020 onward as the long-term demand for commercial aircraft continues to remain robust, with nearly 40,000 units expected to be produced over the next two decades, according to the Deloitte report.

KENTUCKY: AIMING FOR SKY-HIGH GROWTH

While aerospace and aviation continues its upward trajectory as one of the nation’s largest industries, Kentucky is rising to the occasion with its world-class manufacturing, ideal geographic location and a growing emphasis on innovation.

aerospace industry
Morehead State University engineers produce nanosatellites as part of the University’s prestigious Ronald G. Eaglin Space Science Center. (Photo: KY Cabinet for Economic Development)

With aerospace as a target industry, Kentucky continues to make its mark as a national aerospace leader in several aspects, despite only recently launching a concerted effort to boost the industry.

Kentucky is a prolific exporter of aerospace products and parts, far and away the state’s top export. Through November 2019, Kentucky shipped $13.25 billion of aerospace products and parts across US borders, a year-over-year increase of 16.6 percent. Nationally, the commonwealth has ranked either second or third in the category for the past several years.

A robust manufacturing and logistics landscape aids Kentucky heavily in its aerospace ambitions. The state produces nation-leading levels of aluminum, with smelters, recyclers, rolling mills, finishing operations and downstream fabricators all located in the commonwealth. More than 180 aluminum-related facilities across Kentucky—which employ 20,000 people—supply various industries, including aerospace.

Some of the biggest names in aerospace manufacturing already call Kentucky home, including Raytheon, GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin, UPS and Safran. As a whole, the sector employs more than 19,000 workers across nearly 80 facilities comprising specialty machine shops, aluminum and composites fabrication businesses, R&D, tech and service-related companies. In addition, hundreds more indirectly related firms are also creating jobs and investment.

Over the past five years, aerospace-related companies announced about $2.6 billion of investment and the expected creation of more than 3,500 jobs across 52 projects. While a portion of this planned investment stems from new industry, most comes from expansion projects, such as Meggitt Aircraft Braking Systems Kentucky’s $82.7 million investment to increase carbon brake manufacturing capacity at its facility in Danville, less than an hour south of Lexington. Announced in May, the expansion demonstrates not only Meggitt’s commitment to Kentucky, but also the state’s ever-increasing role in the global aerospace industry.

For these companies, Kentucky’s central geographic location provides an immense benefit—the capability to ship products anywhere in the world virtually overnight. While most states would be fortunate to have one air shipping hub, Kentucky touts three: UPS Worldport in Louisville, as well as DHL’s Americas hub and the Amazon Air hub in Northern Kentucky.

The state also lies at the center of a 34-state distribution area in the eastern United States and within a day’s drive of two-thirds the U.S. population. Add to the mix a bevy of FedEx ground facilities and an extensive shipping network of interstates, rail and waterways, and Kentucky undeniably has established itself as a national leader in logistics.

Another attractive element of Kentucky’s business climate comes in the form of favorable industrial electric rates. In this regard, the Bluegrass State is about as good as it gets, boasting the lowest rates east of the Mississippi and among the lowest in the entire U.S.

In terms of research and development, Kentucky’s colleges and universities conduct groundbreaking research and produce aerospace products used globally. For example, Morehead State’s Space Science Center is a world leader in nanosatellite technologies used by NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense and aerospace companies around the world. Several of these Kentucky-made miniaturized satellites—some of which compare to a loaf of bread in size—currently orbit the earth.

Kentucky’s aerospace industry quickly gained momentum over the course of the past few years, and several initiatives are underway to prepare communities for additional investment moving forward.

One crucial step forward is the Product Development Initiative (PDI), a proactive approach to enhance the state’s site-and-building inventory. Through the program, state leaders and the Kentucky Association of Economic Development are helping communities identify and prepare A+ industrial sites and buildings over the coming three years. The program will replenish the state’s inventory of competitive greenfield sites and buildings following multiple years of highly successful economic development.

In November, nine communities received approval for a total of nearly $3 million in funding to enhance industrial and office sites and buildings. The communities must match state grants dollar-for-dollar, meaning PDI will leverage a combined nearly $6 million to upgrade Kentucky’s sites and buildings.

Kentucky’s Build-Ready program marks another proactive approach in site preparation to expedite the site selection process and allow companies to establish a new location. Build-Ready certification assures companies much of the legwork or obstacles common during project implementation has already been handled, in turn eliminating risk and drastically accelerating a company’s buildout. To date, companies have purchased three of Kentucky’s Build-Ready sites, while 15 remain available.

With the stage set and sights set on sky-high growth, look for Kentucky to continue pushing the envelope in the aerospace industry. [This section was written by David Hamilton.]

FLORIDA’S SPACE COAST: MAKING HISTORY AND EVERYTHING ELSE

November 21, 2019 marked another historic moment for Brevard County, also known as Florida’s Space Coast. In the early morning hours, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner emerged from its manufacturing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), led by the hundreds of engineers and technicians who built this “Made in Brevard” spacecraft.

aerospace industry
Boeing Starliner manufacturing facility. (Photo: Enterprise Florida)

Testing will continue, but this was Starliner’s first step on the path to once again deliver American astronauts to space, along with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, from American soil in Brevard County. Such an event hasn’t happened since July 21, 2011 when Shuttle Atlantis lifted off for the last time.

Making history is not new for the Space Coast. What is new in this next chapter of space exploration is Brevard County now makes the spacecraft, rockets, satellites and decisions.

In the past, Brevard County was strictly known as the place for launches. The Economic Development Commission (EDC) of Florida’s Space Coast and the local community took proactive measures prior to the retirement of the shuttle to attract diversity in the aerospace industry. What we see today is the culmination of vision and many years of hard work to obtain a larger share of the commercial space market, and more.

What does this activity look like on the ground in Brevard County?

Next to KSC, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and its massive 650,000-square-foot complex will manufacture, integrate and operate its New Glenn Orbital Launch Vehicle. Rocket stages, payload fairings and adapters will be built and integrated only nine miles from the launch pad. The complex is also home to its launch and mission control centers. This marks the first time all aspects of commercial spacecraft development and launch will be completed within the Space Coast.

Across the street from Blue Origin, OneWeb Satellites opened the world’s first high-volume, high-speed advanced satellite production facility. It is the first to employ industrial-scale mass production techniques for satellites, enabling dramatic cost savings and reduced production times. The company plans to deliver two satellites per day, significantly expanding internet connectivity and making space technology far more accessible.

Inside KSC’s Operations and Checkout Building, Lockheed Martin assembles NASA’s Orion —the only spacecraft designed for long-duration, human deep-space exploration. More than a decade ago, a group of aerospace advocates joined the EDC in bringing Orion to the Space Coast. While it was a turning point in utilizing the capabilities that exist here, winning the assembly and checkout of this program also mitigated one of the worst economic challenges this community ever faced when the Shuttle retired. Lockheed Martin won a $4.6 billion contract to build at least six Orion spacecraft to carry astronauts to the moon. NASA may eventually order another six Orion capsules for its Artemis moon missions, as well.

Through its rocket assembly site in Cocoa and launch complex and control center at Cape Canaveral, Elon Musk’s SpaceX executed a dozen launches in 2019 alone, making a major contribution to the Space Force’s 45th Space Wing’s “Drive to 48,” or 48 launches per year.

But, it’s not just the space industry that launches from here.

Home to more than 500 manufacturers producing everything from executive jets to semiconductors and medical devices, the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville MSA is No. 2 in the state for industry diversification, according to Florida Gulf Coast University, Regional Economic Research Institute.

For three years running, the Space Coast has lead Florida’s trillion-dollar economy in the creation of manufacturing jobs by a wide margin. From 2015 through 2018, 20,346 jobs were created in Brevard County, a 12.2 percent growth compared to 9.0 percent in Florida and 5.3 percent nationwide. Nearly a quarter of those jobs (4,811) were in manufacturing, as compared to 8.5 percent in Florida and 2.9 percent nationally.

Innovation in manufacturing gravitates to where the factories are. Industry experts say applied research and engineering necessary to introduce new products, enhance existing designs and improve production processes are best done near the factories themselves. Brevard County continues to prove this, where production capabilities have grown, decision makers in the form of corporate headquarters and innovation in the form of centers of excellence gravitate.

Boeing’s Starliner manufacturing facility and its Space Launch System rocket, among other factors, influenced the company’s 2019 decision to relocate its Space and Launch Headquarters from Arlington, Virginia, to Titusville, Florida. Earlier in the year, Lockheed Martin made a similar move, relocating its Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) Headquarters from Sunnyvale, California to Titusville. Northrop Grumman has significantly grown its Melbourne, Florida presence, opening its Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence, while numerous other companies, including aviation and defense stalwarts L3Harris and Embraer have bet big on the business climate and workforce of Florida’s Space Coast to drive their future.

The hub of the Space Coast’s economy continues to be its core industries of aerospace, aviation and defense—but its spokes are now more varied and multiplying. A wheel with fewer spokes puts more stress on each and cannot tolerate any breaking. The EDC and its partners continue to build a stronger wheel that is driving Brevard County into its next, even bigger, history-making era.

IT’S ALL ABOUT LOCATION…AND FLORIDA’S HOLLYWOOD HAS IT

Ideally located on South Florida’s Atlantic coast, it’s easy to see why Hollywood is a popular destination for tourism and business alike. With convenient access by air, sea, road and rail, Hollywood is the perfect location to compete in the global marketplace.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, one of three international airports in the area, offers nonstop service to more than 140 U.S. cities and flights to Canada, Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America and Europe. As a recognized leader in international trade and tourism, Hollywood is the primary home to Port Everglades, a powerhouse port ranked among the top cruise ports in the world and one of the most active containerized cargo ports in the U.S. producing more than $34 billion annually in economic activity. Hollywood is a city focused on the future where businesses discover a welcoming climate from the Platinum Permitting customer service program to the award-winning Blue Wave Beach. Hollywood’s “business first” attitude is one of the reasons more than $1.45 billion in real estate development is planned or under construction throughout the City.

Sintavia is the recognized leader for Additive Manufacturing (AM) and one of the most trusted leaders within the Aerospace and Defense industry. Located in its new state-of-the-art 55,000 sf advanced manufacturing facility in Hollywood, Sintavia has quadrupled its production capacity providing superior precision products from this site, which also serves as its corporate headquarters. Sintavia’s components not only perform better mechanically than traditionally manufactured parts, they are less expensive to create and have a better environmental profile than components made through traditional casting and forging technologies.

Quantum Marine Engineering is the industry leader in stabilization technology for the yachting industry. The company’s 31,000 sf, four-story, LEED certified, corporate headquarters is located in Hollywood’s Port 95 Commerce Park. The $6.2 million environmentally advanced headquarters is located directly opposite Quantum’s manufacturing facility, where it has grown to be the world’s largest manufacturer of the Zero-Speed Stabilization System for the luxury megayacht market, military and commercial industries. John Allen, President of Quantum says, “Performance, reliability and service is what has built Quantum to the company it is today. Our new facility helps us to retain our competitive edge.”

Hollywood is investing in its future with millions in public improvements city-wide, sparking a renaissance of new development putting Hollywood on the map. Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, Diplomat Beach Resort & Spa, and Hyde Resort & Residences are just a few of the destination resorts drawing visitors to the city. A new look is also taking shape in the historic Downtown District, led by the $80 million, Block 40 mixed-used development that will feature 166 upscale residential units, a 103 room hotel and 30,000 SF of commercial space while incorporating the facade of the Great Southern historic hotel. The Circ Hotel and Residences is welcoming guests and residents to its 104-room boutique hotel and 397 luxury apartments. The property also includes a supermarket, traditional Italian fare restaurant, coffeehouse and popular rooftop pool lounge. Several additional mixed-use, commercial and residential projects are slated to break ground within the next several months.

Hollywood is primed for smart growth with new zoning in place to allow revitalization along key commercial corridors and within the Downtown Activity Center. More than $600 million in roadway and infrastructure improvements city-wide are bringing additional private development in the form of residential, office and commercial projects, especially along a key transportation corridor in the western section of Hollywood. The city is also committed to helping businesses succeed and grow through a streamlined development review process for high-impact and target industries relocating or expanding in Hollywood. The city’s designation as a Platinum City for permitting by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance ensures businesses have a first-rate experience when it comes to locating in Florida’s Hollywood.

The economic boom continues within Hollywood’s diverse neighborhoods where you can find everything from affordable starter homes to luxury waterfront living. Over the past five years, Hollywood property owners have seen their values increase by more than 40 percent. Property values in Hollywood are outpacing other South Florida communities and are ahead of the county average, which is reflective of the positive, sustainable growth underway throughout the city. Within Hollywood’s walkable, tree-lined neighborhoods, residents find easy access to beautiful parks, scenic bike paths and recreational amenities. Take a sea turtle excursion, hit the links or pickleball courts, kayak through native mangroves or lounge in the aqua blue waters of the Atlantic.

Historic Downtown Hollywood is where you will find music festivals, concerts and world-recognized cultural offerings such as the Hollywood Hot Glass interactive glass blowing studio and the Art and Culture Center/Hollywood. The impressive Downtown Hollywood Mural Project is a must-see stop in South Florida for any art enthusiast. The project features more than 30 vibrant, outdoor, large-scale murals that decorate Downtown Hollywood and enrich the community. Hollywood’s cultural diversity is also represented in the wide array of restaurants offering traditional American fare and international cuisine from around the globe against the backdrop of live music and family friendly entertainment venues. It’s all about location and Hollywood has it. See Life, See Opportunities in Florida’s Hollywood.

SIERRA VISTA: STRATEGIC LOCATION IN BUSINESS-FRIENDLY ARIZONA

Located among the foothills of southeast Arizona’s Huachuca Mountains, an impressive blend of history, education, and nature converge to produce an extraordinary opportunity, especially for businesses focusing on cybersecurity, technology development and aviation operations.

aerospace industry
With a runway long enough to land any aircraft and an educated workforce, Sierra Vista is a national leader in cyber defense and aeronautical technology. (Photo: City of Sierra Vista)

Sierra Vista, thanks to adjacent Fort Huachuca, is woven from nearly a century-and-a-half of strategic missions, technical communications, and intelligence operations. With readily available office space and buildable land, this up-and-coming community is ready to meet today’s critical demand for educated, tech-centric professionals.

Sierra Vista is home to the University of Arizona’s College of Applied Science and Technology, a world leader in cybersecurity and cyberoperations education. The program is both NSA certified and designated as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations.

Located adjacent to nationally-recognized Cochise College, University of Arizona takes a unique offensive and defensive approach to cybersecurity education, offering 360-degree, hands-on training through a forensics lab, a malware sandbox, an Internet of Things lab and CyberApolis, a virtual city with a 3D GUI with network attack map, 15,000 virtual and unique residents, an underground hacker community, an organized crime element, entity and data relational linkages, and activity patterns—all self-expanding facets that reflect real-world situations.

With a successful STEM program feeding into higher education, visionary developers, and a long-standing partnership with one of the U.S. Army’s critical, tech-heavy installations, Sierra Vista is a hive of cybersecurity activity. A visit to this mid-sized southeast Arizona community is marked with stunning scenery and easily accessed outdoor activities, but the technology engines that drives Sierra Vista are leading the nation.

Fort Huachuca’s strategic missions are staffed by thousands of soldiers who perform skilled technical tasks. Approximately 700 professionally trained solders transition from Fort Huachuca to the civilian workforce annually, providing a valuable workforce: trained, skilled professionals ready to put their expertise to work in fields such as electronics, engineering, network operations, security, technical interoperability, intelligence and cyber operations. And former military personnel bring an added value to the workplace, particularly for businesses seeking candidates for sensitive positions. Here, corporate recruiters can find applicants with clean records, high physical standards, demonstrated ability to follow instruction, and ability to obtain clearances.

The open skies, high altitude and phenomenal flying weather create a superb combination for the Army’s diverse missions as well as private operations. With a 12,000-foot runway, hangar space, and tie-down facilities, the joint-use airport is used by the U.S. Forest Service as a base for both command and control for wildland firefighting aircraft, as well as their fixed-wing and rotary air tankers. Throughout the year, the facility is also used by the U.S. Border Patrol for rotary and unmanned aircraft to defend the nation’s southern border.

Not only a great place to live, Sierra Vista is a Great American Defense Community and has been recognized by the Department of Defense for its contribution to national security, earning a sizable grant that has been utilized to evaluate the municipal side of the airport. The study shines a light on this untapped gem and the adjacent available property, along with the aerospace advantages and proximity to Interstate 10.

“The airport is one of Sierra Vista’s greatest assets,” said Tony Boone, Sierra Vista Economic Development Manager, “particularly when coupled with the airspace, workforce, and DoD partnership. We are currently evaluating the study’s findings and are gearing up to better utilize the airport for private ventures in development and training.”

Currently, top entrepreneurs and experienced defense agencies come from around the globe to Fort Huachuca to test and evaluate their leading-edge technology.

At 4,600 feet, Sierra Vista is located where high desert and high mountains meet, creating a climate and topography that bucks stereotypical Arizona perceptions. Sierra Vista enjoys four seasons and still boasts about 284 sunny days each year. With an average daytime temperature of 77 degrees, outdoor activities are a must—and the nearby Huachuca Mountains and San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area deliver, offering a canvas for hiking, bicycling and wildlife watching.

Residents and visitors alike take advantage of Sierra Vista’s year ‘round climate, enjoying the 30-plus miles of shared use paths and easy access to mountain trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Sierra Vista is just a short drive (head east or west) from Arizona’s two major wine-producing regions, national monuments, and neighboring communities like Tombstone, Bisbee and bustling Tucson.

More information about Sierra Vista can be found at www.SierraVistaAZBusiness.com.

HERNANDO COUNTY, FL: GREAT PLACE TO START, BEST PLACE TO STAY

Hernando County, located on the west coast of Florida in the highly regarded Tampa Bay Region, offers the perfect blend of opportunity for business relocation, expansion and lifestyle. Availability, affordability, accessibility and community, that’s what we’re all about.

The Brooksville–Tampa Bay Regional Airport & Technology Center provides an abundance of opportunity just 40 minutes north of Tampa International Airport, and features a 7,000-foot ILS equipment primary runway (with plans to expand to 8,000 feet), an air traffic control tower, airside parcels and CSX rail access sites with sidings in place.

The Technology Center is a premier business location and the epicenter of economic development in Hernando County. The BKV Tech Center is a 2,400-acre, master planned facility with features that include available manufacturing buildings, 1,000+ acres of land for development, sites with direct airside access, and a Duke Energy Site Ready 285-acre parcel with infrastructure in place. With access to more than 300,000 workers within a 30-minute drive, a technical high school and adult education center just across the street, you can see why it is home to successful businesses such as Airdyne Aerospace, Pem-Air Turbine Engine Services, American Aviation Flight Academy, Accuform, Barrette Outdoor Living, and Micro-Matic USA to name just a few.

On the east side of the county, just one mile from Interstate 75 and 40 miles from the Florida Turnpike, are several hundred acres ready for development. Situated on either side of a 1.5Msf Wal-Mart Distribution Center, these two sites are prime for manufacturing or logistics.

Accessibility and transportation are key to your business, and with five major highways crisscrossing Hernando County, shipping and receiving is a breeze. North-south routes include Interstate 75, U.S. 19, the Suncoast Parkway and U.S. 41. The latter two run adjacent to the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and Technology Center, providing a 2-stop light connection to Tampa International Airport. I-75 is east of Brooksville and connects via the major east-west artery, State Road 50.

A business-friendly community, Hernando County is committed to growing industry. The County has invested in the BKV Tech by providing infrastructure ready sites for your business expansion needs. Road, water and sewer are available throughout the park; drainage and water retention are mastered planned affording significant construction savings. By combining State of Florida incentives, workforce training programs and our Rapid Response Permitting Program, Hernando County is the ideal place for business.

Building the pipeline for your future workforce needs is a top priority in Hernando County and throughout the Tampa Bay Region. Our relationships with the local school system and post-secondary institutions help to influence curriculum and workforce training programs to suit your specific business requirements. Partnerships with Pasco-Hernando State College, St. Leo University, University of South Florida, University of Florida and University of Central Florida, along with a robust technical high school and adult education institutions like SunCoast Technical Education Center ensures access to any business expertise you may require as well as a pool of well-trained and motivated employees.

“All work and no play makes …” for an impossibility in Hernando County! Recreational activities are so abundant and varied, it is no wonder we are known as Florida’s Adventure Coast. Your employees and business associates will melt at the picture-perfect sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico, where the Hernando County coast will lure them to some of the best fishing, scalloping and shallow-water boating in west central Florida. Inland, they will enjoy playing championship golf courses and kayaking on a matrix of rivers. You may enjoy hiking, biking and horseback riding on some of Florida’s top-rated trails that meander through forests and nature preserves. For the more adventurous, spend the day in the trees and zip-line at Tampa Bay Extreme Adventure Course or visit Croom Recreation Area and ride your motorcycle/ATV at this world-class compound.

The metro markets of Tampa and Orlando are only a short drive away and residents in Hernando County have access to a wide range of professional sports venues, concert halls, cultural and fine arts, and some of the top-ranked beaches in the United States. Residents here enjoy big-city conveniences while living in an active suburban community where the cost of living consistently ranks the lowest of Tampa Bay’s seven county region.

With a reputation as the most affordable county in the Tampa Bay Region and offering lifestyle choices from beaches to country club to ranches to historic homes, Hernando County has something for everyone. These assets, combined with our business-friendly government, available land and an abundant and well-trained workforce, make Hernando County a natural choice for business relocation and expansion.

MICHIGAN: AEROSPACE PIPELINE FOR TALENT

When most people think of Michigan, often the first thing that comes to mind are the state’s automotive strengths, which have spanned generations. However, Michigan-based automotive manufacturers and their supply chains also have a long history of crossing over into the aerospace industry. During World War II when the U.S. military needed to build more bombers, Henry Ford’s engineers stepped up with the idea to mass-produce the aircraft on an assembly line. Capitalizing on the synergies between the two industries has led Michigan to be consistently ranked a top 10 state in aerospace manufacturing attractiveness by PricewaterhouseCooper.

aerospace industry
Duncan Aviation Battle Creek. (Photo: MEDC/Duncan Aviation)

With the advent of the automotive industry more than a century ago, Michigan laid the groundwork for its legendary manufacturing prowess. Today, other industries including aerospace are building on the state’s heritage and technological know-how to develop innovative, high-tech products of the future.

Organizations like Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) are partnering with companies to revolutionize manufacturing and helping further cement Michigan’s leadership in the research and development of transformative lightweight materials used in the aerospace, automotive and defense industries.

Additionally, as a key entry point into the North American market, Michigan is a natural fit for the advanced manufacturing facilities needed within the aerospace industry. As home to 18 commercial airports and numerous international crossings with Canada, Michigan offers various channels for businesses to move goods throughout the state, country and world.

As the aerospace industry continues on its trajectory of growth globally, Michigan’s deep manufacturing expertise and engineering talent, fueled by a renowned aerospace education ecosystem, position the state as an ideal destination for industry expansion.

Add Michigan’s business-friendly climate and high quality of life into the mix and it creates the perfect ecosystem to attract numerous aerospace companies to invest in the state. Already today, more than 600 aerospace companies are actively doing business within its border, including global players like Pratt & Whitney, GE Aviation, Arconic, Hutchinson, Parker-Hannifin and Eaton Corporation.

Michigan is an incubator for talent, with 18 academic institutions providing aerospace and/or aviation-related curriculum and degrees. The state is also home to the University of Michigan, one of the nation’s top aerospace engineering programs and home of the oldest aeronautical engineering program in the country.

When it comes to the wealth of talent among occupations in primary demand by aerospace, Michigan boasts the highest concentration of electrical and mechanical engineers and tool and die makers, employing more industrial designers than any other state.

To supplement the academic institutions providing world-class engineering training and support, public and private institutions are also developing unique partnerships to create an even more robust pipeline of talent.

Take, for example, the collaboration between Western Michigan University’s (WMU) College of Aviation and Duncan Aviation—the world’s largest family owned business jet support organization. WMU partners with nearby Duncan Aviation to create a qualified talent pool for the region’s aviation industry. In 2014, the Duncan Aviation Inc. Aviation Maintenance Scholarship was created to strengthen the relationship between the institutions and further support the education of future aviation professionals in Michigan, solidifying the state’s strengths in the industry even further.

Michigan offers a range of reasons for people to live and work in the state and, of course, plenty of reasons for business to locate and expand their operations. First and foremost, Michigan is one of the most affordable states in the country for employees. According to Emsi, Michigan’s overall cost of living is approximately 10 percent lower than the national average, making it the fourth most affordable state in the U.S.

Companies and people willing to invest in Michigan are also investing in a quality of life that is unmatched throughout the nation; the Pure Michigan way of life simply can’t be beat. Surrounded by 20 percent of the world’s freshwater and home to more than 11,000 inland lakes, 103 state parks and recreation areas, 150 waterfalls and more than 100 public beaches, Michigan offers plenty of opportunities for finding the next outdoor adventure.

By leveraging Michigan’s strong manufacturing heritage, robust pipeline of highly skilled talent, commitment to education and desirable quality of life, the state is well-positioned for continued growth in the aerospace sector, driving innovation and developing solutions for the future.

Want to learn more about corporate expansion and the aerospace industry?

Researching potential sites for an aerospace industry relocation or expansion project? Check out all the latest news related to economic development, corporate relocation, corporate expansion and site selection in the aerospace and defense industry.

Suggested Links:

  • Aerospace Industry: The Sky’s The Limit Commercial aircraft production and military defense spending will directly affect the growth trajectory of the aerospace and defense industry in 2019.
  • Defense: The Best Offense Nations around the world are increasing their defense budgets; the sophisticated weaponry of the U.S. aerospace industry guarantees it will get a big slice of the pie.
  • U.S. Manufacturing Is Surging Bolstered by a robust economy, the United States remains in the top tier of Brookings’ global manufacturing scorecard.

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