Safran Engineering project highlights Mobile's focused economic development strategy
Saturday, Dec 15, 2012
- Sunday, Dec 15, 2013

MOBILE, Alabama – Southern hospitality is all well and good, but Mobile Mayor Sam Jones said the city’s economic recruitment strategy must remain assertive if coveted aerospace announcements such as Safran Engineering Services are to continue.

“We weren’t surprised to have competition from our east and our west, but we just didn’t think they’d be as aggressive as they were,” Jones said just moments after Safran announced publicly its intentions to build a $2 million engineering facility at Brookley Aeroplex.

The facility – expected to employ 50 with starting annual salaries around $70,000 – represents the first Airbus-related supplier to commit to a Gulf Coast presence since the planemaker unveiled plans in July to build its first final assembly line on U.S. soil at Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex.

Safran Engineering Services, the wiring systems subsidiary of global aerospace giant the Safran Group, operates as an arm of Labinal which produces wiring solutions for the global aerospace industry, including Agusta, Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Embraer, Dassault, Eurocopter, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

Brookley also houses Singapore Technologies, another Labinal customer, less than one mile from the future $600 million Airbus assembly line. Labinal has been in business for 90 years and has employees in 10 countries across the world.

“This announcement is the latest example of how state and local leaders work together to get positive results. I want to welcome Labinal and Safran Engineering Services as our newest corporate citizen, and I want to thank everyone who worked together to make this announcement possible,” Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement.

“Alabama is poised for tremendous growth in the aerospace sector. Labinal joining us in Alabama shows how we are building on the state’s momentum in the aerospace industry. I am confident this is the first of many announcements of new jobs from companies that will support Airbus,” Bentley said.

Karen Bomba, Labinal’s chief executive, said in a statement she looks forward to the opportunities Mobile will provde.

“This new office reflects Labinal and Safran Engineering Services’ commitment to support our customers locally and expand our relationship with Airbus. We look forward to being in Alabama and being part of the Mobile community,” Bomba said.

Jones said cities such as Pensacola, Fla., and Pascagoula, Miss., are certainly equipped to attract and house the caliber of support enterprises Airbus will require to support its Mobile facility, but the city is focused now on cultivating the long-term relationships necessary to continue attracting foreign investment to Mobile Bay.

“I think (Safran) is just the first of several (Airbus-related) announcements we’ll be able to make in the coming months,” Jones said.

But with construction of the Airbus facility not expected to begin until summer 2013, and completion not slated until 2015, Jones said the city will continue to work alongside county and state officials to sell Mobile’s amenities to suppliers worldwide.

“That’s why we were in Hamburg (,Germany) last week. It was our opportunity to get in front of these folks and say, ‘Hey. Come to Mobile. Look at our quality of life. Look at our world-class workforce development training program. Come and see what these other companies find so attractive about us, and we know you’ll want to stay, just like Safran did,’” Jones said.

Meanwhile, Mobile County Commission President Merceria Ludgood welcomed Safran Engineering to Brookley on behalf of the county’s 412,000 residents. She vowed that the spirit of resilience and optimism so prevalent in the fabric of Mobile’s community spirit will make the pair successful corporate partners.

“On Dec. 15, Mobile County will celebrate its 200th birthday,” Ludgood told Safran Engineering CEO Bruno Bernard during Thursday’s formal announcement.

Because his company will be part of that fabric, Ludgood said Safran will now become a part of the county’s “deep, enduring traditions that result in a culture that will support you as we grow together.”

And of course, all parties would prefer nothing but sunshine and happy days ahead, but in the stark reality of often harsh economic conditions, Ludgood said Bernard can count on his company’s new home’s support, for better or worse.

Whether they be the “winds of a hurricane or the winds of an economic decline,” she said, “We will batten down the hatches...and ride it out together.”

Mobile City Councilman John Williams said the Safran announcement is overshadowed only by the anticipated onslaught of associated projects it’s expected to spawn.

“This announcement solidifies our approach to attracting suppliers and support activities for Airbus. This means jobs and sends the message, worldwide, that our doors are open and we welcome all to our great city,” Williams said.

Above all, Jones said he remains committed to fostering the spirit of regional cooperation necessary to cultivate a thriving aerospace corridor, but he is honored to welcome so quickly a company with the respect and reputation of Safran, a sentiment shared by Troy Wayman, vice president of economic development for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We are proud to have Labinal as part of our ever-growing aerospace family. The company’s reputation and international presence in Mobile is a testament to the team approach the city of Mobile, Mobile County, state of Alabama, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and other partners take to recruit industry here,” Wayman said.

“These high-paying engineering jobs are proof the investment Mobile and the state made in Airbus is bearing fruit. I expect this to be the first of many returns on investment as Airbus continues work on its center of excellence at Brookley Aeroplex.”