Ohio Aviation Firm Building Plant In Alabama

GE Aviation plans to build a coatings plant for military jet engines that will employ 300 to 400 people, cost $40 million to $45 million to build and open in 2012.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The state's growing list of aviation and aerospace companies added another name Wednesday, when Ohio-based GE Aviation announced plans to build a coatings plant for military jet engines within three months.

Company President David Joyce joined Alabama Gov. Bob Riley to announce the company will build its first plant in the state. Joyce said it will employ 300 to 400 people, cost $40 million to $45 million to build and open in 2012.

Joyce would not disclose a list of potential sites, other to say it will be a collaborative effort with Alabama universities.

High-ranking officials of the University of Alabama, Auburn University and Tuskegee University attended the announcement, along with local officials from Tuscaloosa, Tallapoosa, Lee and Macon counties. Several said they expect the plant to be close to Auburn and Tuskegee in east Alabama or the University of Alabama in west Alabama.

"We're certainly hoping it's Auburn," Mayor Bill Ham said after the announcement.

GE Aviation, based in Cincinnati, makes jet engines for military and civilian aircraft. Joyce said the company's first Alabama plant would make coatings used on components in extremely hot areas of the GE Rolls-Royce F136 jet engine for the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 planes.

Joyce said the company is looking for a site that will accommodate a 200,000-square-foot plant and provide plenty of room for growth for what the company is calling its Environmental Coatings Center for Excellence. Riley described the announcement as "a tremendous commitment to the future of Alabama from GE."

The announcement is the second to come out of Riley's talks with aviation and aerospace companies during the Farnborough International Air Show in England last month. Raytheon Co. recently announced plans to build a missile production plant in Huntsville that will create 300 jobs.

Riley said Alabama is in the running for one other aviation project based on the talks in England.

The state's industrial recruitment agency, the Alabama Development Office, describes aviation and aerospace industries as a rapidly growing part of Alabama's economy, supplying 73,000 civilian and federal jobs.

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