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Arkansas forms aerospace alliance

Keywords: Tags  Arkansas Aerospace Alliance, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, aerospace industry, Hawker Beechcraft, Lockheed Martin, Samuel Frizell

NEW YORK — The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce announced last week the formation of the Arkansas Aerospace Alliance, a trade association intended to promote the aerospace and aviation industry in the state.

"This alliance will build future success and achievement onto Arkansas’s strong foundation in aerospace and aviation," Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said in a statement from the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.

The alliance will have an advisory board and a board of directors consisting of aerospace industry leaders, as well as component suppliers, manufacturers and state agency workers, Robin Pelton, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s aerospace sector manager, told AMM.

One of the goals of the group will be to increase aerospace exports from the state, Pelton said. Arkansas’ rank fell to 22 among the 50 states in aerospace exports in 2010 from 16th place in 2009, according to the alliance’s website.

The alliance came about after 35 executives representing the aerospace or related industries met in October to discuss plans to expand the sector. Their goal for strategic development was fourfold and included lobbying at the state and national levels, training a skilled work force, coordinating customers along the supply chain within and outside of Arkansas and shaping long-term economic development in the state.

"It made sense that we needed to coordinate activity because we are a small state without a lot resources," Pelton said.

News for Arkansas’ aerospace industry has been mixed in recent cycles, with bankrupt aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft announcing in November that it is closing its doors in Little Rock as part of a larger restructuring (, Nov. 12). At the same time, aircraft and parts manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin Corp., AAR Corp. and Triumph Airborne Structures Inc. are moving to expand in the state, she said.

"A lot of our machine component parts folks are doing well, and they’re moving their facilities to expand," Pelton said.

The alliance hopes to attract companies like Herndon, Va.-based Airbus Americas, which will be attending the alliance’s aerospace summit in March, Pelton said. 

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