County leaders, suppliers at Farnborough Airshow
Dave Martin / Associated Press
Officials attend a ceremony last week announcing that Airbus will build a factory in Mobile, Ala. Snohomish County leaders and executives say the Farnborough International Airshow this week in England is an opportunity to size up regions such as the South that are competing for business.
"We have to have a presence there," said Troy McClelland, president of Economic Alliance Snohomish County.
Washington state and the county's largest employer, the Boeing Co., will have displays at the air show, which draws thousands of aerospace suppliers and airlines. Held on alternate years with the Paris Air Show, Farnborough opens today and runs through Sunday.
At the air show, McClelland will seek to convince suppliers to locate facilities in Snohomish County. He'll also talk with some of the county's existing aerospace suppliers about expanding.
"If you do a dynamite job with retention and expansion, then recruitment will follow," said John Monroe, chief operating officer of Economic Alliance.
With a diverse mix of 160 aerospace companies, a trained workforce, available land and buildings and a flexible permitting system, the county has a lot to offer companies.
"When you have the assets that Snohomish County has, we need to be able to tell people we're here," McClelland said.
Economic Alliance has kept in contact with many aerospace suppliers over the years. Most, McClelland said, have one-year, three-year and five-year business plans for expanding or adding new facilities. It's up to the Alliance to keep track of where each company is in the process and make sure Snohomish County remains an option. Attending Farnborough makes it possible to maintain those relationships, he said.
Otherwise, "you might become less interesting from their perspective," McClelland said.
The air show also will give county officials an opportunity to size up their competition.
"We need to go so we have a clear understanding of the national and international competitive landscape," McClelland said.
In a recent interview, Gov. Chris Gregoire identified the region she sees as Washington's biggest competitive threat.
"Our major competition is the South," she said. That said, "they don't have the trained workforce we do."
Last week, Airbus confirmed plans to build an A320 final-assembly line in Mobile, Ala. Boeing already is doing large composite assembly and 787 final assembly in North Charleston, S.C. McClelland didn't think Airbus' recent announcement would change conversations with prospective companies at Farnborough. Long term, though, "it's too early to say" how Airbus' Mobile site will affect discussions.
Other states and regions have sent officials and business leaders to Farnborough, including Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Oklahoma.
Like Gregoire, McClelland believes Snohomish County and Washington have to remain focused on workforce training and education that will benefit the aerospace industry. The Everett-based Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Materials Manufacturing will be represented at Farnborough to help explain the area's training and education plans.
Marysville-based SeaCast Inc., will be on hand at the air show. The company previously has sent representatives to both the Farnborough and Paris shows. Ty Ueland, director of business development, said SeaCast has been pleased with results from those air shows.
"It's just a great opportunity for us to meet a lot of our customers face-to-face," he said. "It economizes our marketing travel."
At Farnborough, SeaCast officials will meet with new customers and seek potential partners for projects. The air show also provides an opportunity to check out how various technologies are changing, Ueland said.
SeaCast, which employs about 140 people in Marysville, is attending the air show outside of London as part of Gregoire's delegation, which includes 10 companies, and representatives of commerce and educational institutions within the state.
Having the governor in attendance usually means the trip will be more effective, given that there are a lot of other states competing for aerospace business, Ueland said.
While at the air show, Lynnwood-based Crane Aerospace & Electronics will announce a new contract with GE Aviation. Crane has been selected to provide fuel-flow transmitters for GE Aviation's LEAP-X and Passport 20 engines. Crane's fuel-flow transmitters measure fuel flow in mass, not volume, for higher accuracy.
The LEAP-X engines are being used on Airbus' A320 new engine option aircraft, or A320neo, which has more than 1,000 orders, and Comac's C919. The Passport 20 engines are used on business aircraft.
"We expect this to be one of the largest fuel flow transmitter programs in our history," said John J. Higgs, Crane vice president of fluid management systems.
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Farnborough International Airshow
Today through Sunday at Farnborough Airport outside London. More info: www.farnborough.com/airshow-2012
Key Boeing events
Today: Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner talks about the company's commercial airplane products and services.
Tuesday: Beverly Wyse, 737 Program vice president and general manager, and Joe Ozimek, vice president, 737 MAX marketing, talk about the present 737 and development progress of the 737 MAX.
Complete Boeing schedule: www.boeing.com/farnborough2012