Aviation impact huge in Wiregrass

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 20, 2012

The aviation/aerospace industry is hugely important in Alabama, Seth Hammett, vice president of business development for PowerSouth, told a crowd at the South Alabama Regional Airport Thursday night.

SARA hosted a joint business after hours event for the Andalusia and Opp chambers of commerce.

The aerospace industry employs more than 73,000 people in Alabama, Hammett said, and there are more than 23,000 direct and indirect jobs related to aerospace in South Alabama.

Many of those are tied to Ft. Rucker, he said, adding that people often forget the Army base is the largest helicopter training facility in the world.

In Covington County, he said, Vector Aerospace employs 105 and is growing, and the company which has leased SARA’s twin hangars has great potential, he said.

Tucson Roberts, president and CEO of the Covington County Economic Development Commission, said the company will make a formal announcement in May.

“It is a first class company,” he said, adding that the announcement will be made when a site manager is in place.

Hammett said that in addition to being one of the best airports anywhere for a community this size, SARA has given county residents a reason to work collectively.

“A former mayor of Opp once said he was going to load up the courthouse on a wagon and pull it by goat to Opp.

“Now, we are working together,” he said. “Together we all prosper by collaborating and working on our strengths.”

Also highlighted were the dual enrollment training program operated by Enterprise-Ozark Community College, Vector Aerospace, and Sitel, all of which operate on the airport campus.