New Helicopter Plant

Southeast Alabama will be the new home for a helicopter manufacturing, maintenance and refurbishing facility. The project at Blackwell Field in Ozark is expected to create 300 new jobs.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley Monday joined Ozark city officials in breaking ground for BellAero.

It’s a three-phase construction project: a new runway, a flight operations hangar and a production hangar.

BellAero manufactured 45 aircraft last year and the company said production will increase to 60 aircraft by the end of the year and to more than 100 in 2007.

The new plant could also boost interest in a helicopter repair training program at Enterprise-Ozark Community College's Aviation Campus. The school was recently awarded a federal grant to help meet the need for skilled aviation mechanics.

Ozark is also home to the U.S. Army's Aviation Center at Fort Rucker where Army and Air Force helicopter pilots are trained annually.