Thursday, September 29, 2011

GE Aviation holds symposium for potential suppliers to Auburn plant - Alabama.

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama  - GE Aviation is the latest company that's attempting to help the state's aerospace and aviation industries reach new altitudes.

The industry giant's jet-engine division hosted a business supplier symposium here this morning in advance of GE Aviation's new multimillion-dollar engine coatings plant slated to open in Auburn next year. The plant is expected to have up to 400 employees in a few years.

But Mike Sims, general manager with GE Aviation, told attendees to not limit their options to the Auburn plant, but look at ways of doing business with GE around the world and even with other aerospace companies.

Aviation is about a $20 billion industry for GE and the company spends more than $1 billion annually in research and development on just the aviation side of its operations, Sims said. GE Aviation has 83 facilities in 11 countries with around 37,000 employees.

It also has 13,000 suppliers and the capacity to add many more as the industry continues on its current growth path.

Sims said GE Aviation left this year's Paris Air Show with $27 billion in new orders for engines and components - some of which are not even commercially available yet. Airlines and militaries have all indicated they will be increasing spending on aviation and aerospace in the future, fueling that continuing growth.

More than 100 businesses from across Alabama are participated in today's symposium to learn what it takes to do business with GE - from the company's supplier selection process to the quality and regulatory requirements that come with being an aviation industry supplier.

Companies were able to break out into face-to-face sessions with GE representatives at the symposium, which was presented with the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, delivered the keynote address and said he would have preferred that GE Aviation had chosen Tuscaloosa for its Alabama facility, but is glad it's coming to Auburn.

"As a leading producer of both commercial and military aviation products, I am pleased that GE's Alabama footprint will be expanding to include additional relationships with Alabama businesses as well as a new facility in Auburn," he said.

Sims said GE is just getting started with its growth in Alabama.

"We're committed to enhancing GE Aviation's presence in Alabama - and between the new Auburn facility and the supplier relationships that are sure to come out of this symposium, we're well on our way," said Sims. "We look forward to decades of work with the hardworking people of Alabama."

Sims said he hopes to leave the symposium with as many as a dozen viable new suppliers for GE Aviation.

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