Chapter VI tech parks update


A 1,100-acre technology corridor in South Mississippi and a $200 million
maintenance, repair and overhaul campus in Pensacola are two of the latest visions
to develop aerospace/aviation parks in the region. They would add to the already
existing aviation clusters that dot the I-10 corridor.

NASA in December 2017 opened a search for a non-federal partner to lead in
development of the park designed for companies that want to work with NASA or
other Stennis Space Center (SSC) tenants but don’t want to be far away and don’t
want to go through security measures required within SSC. Enterprise Park would be
on the north edge of SSC and would include property within and outside the SSC
security perimeter.

Randy Galloway, deputy director of the NASA rocket engine test facility, said he
thought it would be dynamic and a good source of long-term jobs.

Further to the east in Pensacola, Fla., the new $46 million VT Mobile Aerospace
Engineering maintenance, repair and overhaul hangar that will employ 400 workers
opened in June at Pensacola International Airport. In addition, PSA Airlines, a
subsidiary of American Airlines, plans to open a maintenance shop at the airport.

Now the city of Pensacola is requesting $130 million from Triumph Gulf Coast - in
charge of distributing recovery money in Northwest Florida from the 2010 BP oil spill,
according to the Pensacola News Journal. The money would be used for an
expansion of the Pensacola airport through creation of additional hangars at a
proposed $200 million MRO campus. It is believed the expansion could bring as
many as 4,000 additional jobs to the airport.

Meanwhile, a nacelles cluster is taking shape in the Mobile-Baldwin region in
Alabama. Safran in August 2017 said it would open a manufacturing operation at the
Mobile Aeroplex to produce and install aircraft engine nacelles. UTC Aerospace
already operates a nacelles plant in Foley, Ala., and opened a new 80,000-square-
foot nacelles assembly facility at its campus last year that will specialize in nacelles
for A320 series jetliners that opt for the new engine option (neo). UTC delivered its
first fully integrated neo propulsion system to Mobile’s Airbus in February.

Also since the last book, change is coming to one of the tenants at Okaloosa
Industrial Air Park at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview.

In a deal expected to be finalized this summer, L3 Crestview Aerospace will be sold to
a New York investment firm in a $540 million deal. L3 Crestview Aerospace has 500
workers at the park.

The I-10 region is dotted with industrial parks that specialize or cater to aerospace
and aviation activities. Some are long-established pillars of their communities, like the
Fort Walton Beach Commerce and Industrial Park, which opened in 1964. Others are
more recent developments.

Alabama, Mississippi and Northwest Florida all have site certification programs
designed to make it easier to companies to set up operations at “shovel-ready”
locations across the region.

- Gulf Coast Reporters League, June 2018
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