Airbus Stop

By: Courtney Hayes
By: Courtney Hayes

Airbus' parent company has narrowed the field down to four southeastern cities for a multi-million dollar aircraft manufacturing plant.

And Panama City is out of the running.

European Aeronautics and Defense Systems shifted its timetable ahead two years for building a U.S. aircraft factory.

That appears to have been the crippling blow for Bay County's chances at landing the Airbus plant.

The aircraft maker wants to be able to start production on an aerial refueling tanker as early as next year, so it will be in a better position to compete for a multi-billion dollar Air Force contract.

The Federal Aviation Administration hasn't even approved plans for a West Bay airport.

Even with that approval, the 9,000 foot runway Airbus needs won't be complete until at least 2008.

So airbus has by-passed Bay County in favor of four other possible locations.

Melbourne, Florida, Mobile, Alabama, Kiln, Mississippi and Charleston, South Carolina.

Local economic development officials are obviously disappointed, but say it's good practice for the future.

"In the beginning we didn't want to raise expectations. But we thought we were perfectly situated, and would have been had the timetable not changed. This is exciting. Many more opportunities with airport relocation," says Ed Wright, Partners for Progress.

Industry experts have named Mobile, Alabama as the most likely choice for the Airbus bid.

In fact, just this week a national business publication rated Alabama’s Industrial Recruitment Agency as the best in nation last year.

Local economic leaders say we still have a lot to learn from our neighbors.


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