Southern States Create Aerospace Alliance

BAY MINETTE, Ala. (AP) -- The governors of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi have announced the launch of an alliance designed to create an aerospace and aviation corridor from Panama City, Fla., to Louisiana.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced the launch of the Aerospace Alliance before hundreds of supporters at Faulkner State Community College in Bay Minette on Monday.

The alliance would allow business, economic development, government and civic leaders to combine resources, funds and manpower for lobbying efforts, according to organizers.

The alliance's first priority is to help secure the KC-45 aerial tanker program for the region. If the KC-45 aircraft is selected, the tankers will be assembled in Mobile, bringing 48,000 jobs to the county and thousands of additional jobs to the region.

The region would then become one of the leaders in the world in the production of large-body aircraft, along with France and the Pacific Northwest.

"The programs we attract will in turn attract suppliers, bringing even more jobs and development," Riley said.

Barbour said the alliance will go far in promoting the region, which is "one of the largest aerospace corridors in the world."

The governors stressed that the alliance was needed because of the need to create jobs, saying the area's economy was hurt by Hurricane Katrina and the recession. Unemployment rates are high throughout the Southeast, and both Alabama and Florida have unemployment over 10 percent.

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