FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 1, 2016) – Governor Matt Bevin opened the Helicopter Association International (HAI) HELI-EXPO at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville with a ribbon cutting this morning.
Its first time in Louisville, the expo is the aviation industry’s largest annual trade show with more than 20,000 guests expected to attend. Governor Bevin proclaimed March 1, 2016 to be “Champions of Vertical Aviation Day,” toured the HAI HELI-EXPO and met with some of the industry’s most influential leaders.
“Kentucky’s aviation and aerospace industry continues to expand and HAI’s decision to bring the HELI-EXPO to Louisville underscores their growing strength in Kentucky,” said Governor Bevin. “This is an opportunity to showcase how our state manufactures quality products, offers world-class services and builds long term relationships with industry leaders.”
Governor Bevin spoke with representatives from roughly a dozen companies that either operate in Kentucky, or may be looking to establish a relationship. Those include: RJ Corman, Blackhawk Composites, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Airbus, Bell Helicopter and MD Helicopters, among others.
Kentucky’s aviation and aerospace industry grew at a substantial rate in recent years, with 52 facilities currently employing nearly 15,000 people across the state. Last year alone, 12 aviation or aerospace facilities announced plans to locate or expand in Kentucky, totaling $161.5 million in investment and 585 new full-time jobs.
That growth has continued into 2016, with Messier-Bugatti-Dowty announcing last week a more than $100 million investment at its facility in northern Kentucky that will create roughly 80 jobs. The facility, which produces and remanufactures aircraft wheels and carbon brakes, expanded five previous times since locating in Kentucky in 1999. Messier-Bugatti-Dowty’s customers of its Kentucky-made products include the U.S. Air Force, Boeing and Airbus.
“The aerospace and aircraft support industries are Kentucky’s secret superpower,” said Erik Dunnigan, acting secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “Few people realize Kentucky plays a major role in this global sector. Our central location, superior workforce and technology-driven innovation vaulted Kentucky to a position as one of the world’s most respected and reliable sources for critical aerospace components and services.”
Aerospace products and parts was Kentucky’s greatest export in 2015 for the third straight year and the seventh time in eight years, with more than $8.7 billion in products shipped out of the state. That’s a more than 12-percent increase over the previous year’s mark of nearly $7.8 billion.
For more information on HAI HELI-EXPO, visit www.HeliExpo.Rotor.org.
A profile of Kentucky’s aerospace industry, including a list of aerospace-related facilities and products, can be viewed here.