Alabama delegation recruits aerospace jobs

Published 4:07 am Monday, June 25, 2007

By By Jo Bonner
In an effort to further build on the Southeast's growing aerospace presence, Governor Bob Riley, Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, and I – as well as other elected officials – traveled to France for a trans-Atlantic economic development mission last week.
Many others from Alabama made the trip, including Mobile Mayor Sam Jones, Baldwin County Commissioners Wayne Gruenloh and David Ed Bishop, officials from the Mobile Chamber of Commerce and the Mobile Airport Authority, as well as some 50 business and community leaders, many who traveled at their own expense.
The trip was a great opportunity for us to sell Alabama, and there is no better salesman for our state than Governor Riley. He led the Alabama delegation and helped introduce us to some of the key players in the aerospace and defense industries. Obviously, we have a lot at stake and a lot riding on Alabama's developing aerospace industry.
Before we went to the world's largest air show – the 47th International Paris Air Show – we stopped in Toulouse to learn more about one of the world's largest aircraft manufacturers – Airbus.
We toured the Airbus manufacturing complex, where we saw the A330 and A380 production lines. We also met with a number of officials from aerospace companies who have indicated they want to locate in south Alabama should the tanker be built in Mobile.
Make no mistake; the tanker project is important to Alabama because as you know, Northrop Grumman – in partnership with EADS North America – selected Mobile as the final assembly site for its KC-30 tanker, should the team win the $40 billion Air Force contract to replace the aging KC-135 aircraft fleet.
EADS (European Aeronautics Defence and Space Company) is the second largest aerospace and defense company in the world – as well as the parent company of Airbus – and they contribute more than $10 billion to the U.S. economy each year.
The contract, which should be awarded in October, would create some 1,000 high-paying jobs and thousands more could be expected from aircraft parts suppliers and other related businesses. The highlight of the tour of the Airbus complex was seeing the first set of wings for the KC-30, which is the Northrop Grumman/EADS team's offer for the new tanker.
Since 2001, Alabama's newest corporate partners, including Airbus, EADS and its partnerships with Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, are helping to make the Southeast the epicenter of American aerospace excellence.
The economic impact of these projects goes far beyond Alabama's borders, and our recruitment efforts have grown to reflect that regional influence.
While we won't know for a few more months whether the Northrop Grumman/EADS team will be awarded the Air Force tanker contract, it is an exciting time for the state of Alabama and certainly southwest Alabama. We are on the forefront of aviation history, all the while helping to defend our country and friends abroad.
New OMB Director
Last week, President Bush announced that Rob Portman will be stepping down as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and he has selected former U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle to be the 36th director of OMB.
Jim – who chaired the House Budget Committee for five years – is a fiscal conservative. As a member of the House Budget Committee, I know first-hand his even-handed and determined approach to the budget process and his ability to work with members on both sides of the aisle.
As OMB director, he will assist the president in overseeing the preparation of the federal budget – the blueprint of our nation's spending priorities. The director also works to ensure that we are good stewards of the money hardworking Americans send to Washington.
I commend Director Portman for his many years of tireless service both to our country and the people of Ohio's Second Congressional District. Prior to his tenure at OMB, he served with distinction as the United States Trade Representative and as a member of Congress. I wish Rob and his family all the best as he returns to Ohio for some well-deserved time-off.
Likewise, I look forward to working with Jim and the OMB staff to increase the level of fiscal responsibility in Washington. His nomination must still be confirmed by the Senate.
First Lady visits Mobile
First Lady Laura Bush traveled to Mobile last week to commend Team Focus, the Mobile-based community outreach program that provides a positive role model to young men without a father at home.
Founded in 1999 by Mike and Mickey Gottfried, the program has grown rapidly, and today, there are camps in seven states and the District of Columbia.
One of the five-day summer camps was held at Spring Hill College, where Mrs. Bush visited with the campers and their mentors.
As the leader of the president's Helping America's Youth initiative, Mrs. Bush thanked all of the mentors for "trying to fill that void in the lives of these boys and being so successful at it."
She closed her remarks by calling for an end to fatherlessness, "if you can be a father to your own children, and then they'll know what it's like to have a dad that loves them."
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website at
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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