Aerospace Takes Center Stage at Forum in Kinston

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The North Carolina Global TransPark hosted an event on Wednesday, May 22nd which promoted the aerospace industry in Eastern NC. The Triangle-Eastern North Carolina British-American Business Council organized the gathering, in which more than 50 people with interests in the sector attended.

IMG_0639.JPGThe North Carolina Global TransPark hosted an event on Wednesday, May 22nd which promoted the aerospace industry in Eastern NC. The Triangle-Eastern North Carolina British-American Business Council organized the gathering, in which more than 50 people with interests in the sector attended.

Participants heard from representatives with the Northeast, Eastern, and Southeast Regional Economic Development Commissions who collaborated to discuss the sector’s growth and how they are supporting the industry. While NC is home to more than 180 aerospace related manufactures, Eastern NC is becoming a hotbed of aerospace and aviation employers  with more than 60 related companies. A representative from the Research Triangle Region provided remarks regarding the General Electric Engine operations in Durham.

NC Department of Commerce Secretary, Sharon Decker delivered the keynote address. Decker’s remarks concerned advanced manufacturing, which she referred to as a foundational element of our statewide economy. Decker noted that a Vice President for Manufacturing would be appointed by the Governor and will be responsible for supporting existing manufacturers through leveraging of state, regional and local assets.

One such aerospace manufacturer provided the backdrop for the afternoon’s events, Sprit AeroSystems. Don Blake, Director for Site Services, Business Management and Government Relations provided and overview of Spirit’s Kinston, NC facility that manufactures center fuselage and wing spars for Airbus.  The company employs more than 400 (plus contract workers) and accommodates another 20+ full-time Airbus employees. Current plans anticipate 1,000 workers at the facility by 2016.

Attendees were treated to a tour of the Spirit AeroSystems Composite Center of Excellence, a state-of-the-art training center which houses specially equipped classrooms and labs to meet the unique employment needs of the company. In addition to touring the Center of Excellence, Mr. Blake and others provided a tour of Spirit’s manufacturing facility at the NC Global TransPark.

Alongside private industry, the military is a significant player in Eastern NC’s aerospace arena. Fleet Readiness Center East (FRC East), a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility onboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point employs more than 3,000 people, 500 of which are full-time civilian engineers who work on base.  As the largest industrial employer in Eastern NC, FRC East provides MRO support on the military’s vertical lift aircraft.

North Carolina’s Eastern Region is a regional economic development agency serving 13 counties from I-95 to the coast. For more information visit North Carolina’s Eastern Region’s website (www.nceast.org).