Game changer?

Published 5:10am Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Although the excitement stemming from the Monday groundbreaking at the Airbus facility in Mobile can be felt as far as the Atmore area, it could be at least two to four years before the news could have any effect locally, according to a local official.

Richard Maxwell, president of the Atmore Industrial Development Board, said Airbus, at least for now, will have parts produced overseas and shipped to the plant for assembly. He added that it will take a few years before suppliers move into the area.

But Atmore officials have made sure they are known in the Airbus process. Mayor Jim Staff, Chamber of Commerce Director Sheryl Vickery and chamber president Ellis Beachy attended Monday’s ground-breaking at Brookley Field in Mobile.

Beachy, also owner of Escofab in Atmore, a metal fabrication and machining facility, said he does expect the plant to have an impact.

“If it doesn’t affect existing business, it will bring in new business,” he said. “There will be an opportunity for companies to supply through the building process and through the manufacturing as well.”

He said local companies could be involved in aspects of the building process by supplying components that go into the setup of the manufacturing process. He noted that a challenge with that could stem from the level of certification needed when dealing with airliners.

As far as Escofab being involved in the project, Beachy said he doesn’t know yet.

“I really haven’t explored what it can do for us at this point,” he said.

Staff said he got a chance to meet with everyone involved in the project, including Gov. Robert Bentley. The mayor said he’s excited about the prospect of new jobs in the area, especially for existing companies, like Escofab and Muskogee Technology.

“If nothing else, but jobs,” he said. “We’re going to be pushing Atmore to the forefront to make sure that happens.”

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