Company locating at SARA; 40+ new aviation jobs expected

Published 1:11 am Thursday, January 12, 2017

A major aviation company is coming to the South Alabama Regional Airport.

SARA Co-Director Jed Blackwell said the name of the company is being withheld until the lease is completely signed. There will be a formal press conference and announcement in the coming days, he said.

There were actually three companies vying for the twin hangar complex, Blackwell said.

Ultimately the board decided they didn’t want to accept under $50,000 per month for the first year of the lease.

The company has verbally agreed to pay $50,000 per month for year one; $55,000 per month for years two and three, and $60,000 per month for years four and five.

The company has a contract in place for $300,000,000 to perform work on 85 C-130s, which will be performed in two phases, Blackwell said.

The contract also allows three one-year lease renewals at $60,000 per month.

Blackwell said it’s projected the company will bet at SARA for at least eight years, with the contract it has in place.

“They will add 85 new jobs,” he said. “They will bring 30 to 40 employees with them, who will rent houses here,” he said. “But they will employ 40-45 new jobs, with them needing 30-35 certified airframe and powerplant employees.”

Blackwell said the pay is good, as well.

The company is expected to occupy the twin hangar complex in February and it is expected the aircraft will be in Sanford in July or August.

“Our hangars are our best assets,” Covington County Economic Development President Rick Clifton said.

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson reminded the crowd that the hangars were the vision of longtime airport manager Bill Benton.

Blackwell said the two other companies that have interest in airport space are a simulator training business and a business that works on Sikorsky Firehawks.