PARIS, FRANCE - Governor Bob Riley is finishing up the first leg of his Economic Development and Jobs Mission in France today. Riley attended the Paris Air Show.
Among the top priorities for the Governor, and perhaps the hottest topic of the air show, was the ongoing competition between Northup-Grumman/EADS and Boeing to build the next generation of aircraft refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force last year selected the Northrop tanker over the alternative offered by Boeing, but the deal was stopped by Defense Secretary Robert Gates after federal auditors found technical errors in the selection process.
Governor Riley, Alabama Development Office Director Neal Wade and a delegation of economic developers from Alabama were joined by representatives from partner states Mississippi and Florida for multiple events and strategy briefings with Nothrup-Grumman/EADS officials.
"We had very productive meetings with the Northup/EADS group," Governor Riley said. "The attitude is very positive. We have the right team, the right strategy, and we are all more committed than ever to building tankers in Alabama. We have won this project once. Now we'll just have to win it again."
The Alabama delegation also met with 14 other aerospace companies that could potentially locate operations in Alabama. In addition to recruiting new companies, the Governor's delegation also met with companies with existing operations in Alabama as well as representatives from NASA and Redstone Arsenal.
"The aerospace and aviation industry truly is taking off in Alabama," Governor Riley said. "Even though the economy hasn't fully recovered, most companies are planning ahead for when it does. Our job is to make sure that Alabama is at the top of their lists when they start making decisions about where to build that next plant or technology center. These international companies need to know that Alabama is open for business and we have the workforce and economic environment that will help them succeed."
Governor Riley will now travel to Singapore, where he is scheduled to meet with corporate officials from Singapore Technologies, parent company of Mobile Aerospace in Mobile, Alabama.