The role of aerospace in Fayette’s vision
As one of the 40 members on the Fayette Visioning Initiative’s steering committee, I am honored to be selected as a representative of the small business community. As president of Aventure Aviation, a parts supplier for commercial and military aircraft in Peachtree City, I support the visioning effort and have shared my ideas in making Fayette a better place to live, for the next five years and beyond.
According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, for the second year in a row in 2013, aerospace was our number one export, bringing in $7.8 billion in revenue. The aerospace industry is vibrant and continues to grow exponentially — bringing in new revenues from other states and overseas.
We need to support this booming industry as Airbus Industries and Boeing have unprecedented orders for new aircraft that already represents seven years of backlog.
Fayette has a unique location that I believe we need to consider. We have the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International, just a few miles north. From that hub, Delta and other airlines can deliver to numerous cities and capitals of the world. We also have access to an impressive, well-managed airport in Peachtree City with a 5,700-foot runway.
We’re also centrally located half way between Mobile, Ala., where the new Airbus Industries aircraft assembly plant is fast taking shape, and 300 miles east, where the Boeing B787 Dreamliner aircraft plant is turning out the most modern and most successful aircraft to ever be launched with over 800 aircraft ordered before the first aircraft was delivered.
Lockheed Martin and Gulfstream, Georgia-based plants, secure many new aircraft orders; and nearby Georgia Tech University provides courses and degrees in aerospace. And don’t overlook our large population of aviation employees who are available now or when they retire to continue employment and provide consultation services.
The challenge for us: how do we harness our existing resources and the aviation and aerospace opportunity before us?
One of those resources is the underutilized Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) earmarked in Peachtree City. The FTZ allows foreign companies to base their plants inside with unique benefits such as streamlined customs entry procedures.
How can we get European, Japanese or other foreign manufacturers of aircraft sub assemblies and parts to open their plants in our FTZ, to provide employment to our young college graduates and those who are tired of commuting long distances to their present jobs?
We need to encourage aerospace companies to relocate or open new business. We need to welcome them in Fayette County with open arms as they will provide jobs for our college graduates and young professionals whose income levels will be beneficial to local businesses.
We have heard from the Fayette County Development Authority in the past about the challenges of getting companies to relocate here due to limited land parcels and completed office and warehouse buildings.
The good news is that there is substantial land around the Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field with access to that airfield. How can we encourage international aerospace companies to build a “cluster of aviation companies” that support the industry not only locally, but regionally as well?
The Fayette Visioning Initiative offers a platform for Fayette County citizens and stakeholders to consider critical economic opportunities such as these.
Future planning for the county is essential to our community’s growth and success. The process continues as the steering committee crafts a draft vision plan and a corresponding implementation plan.
The vision plan does not belong to a group or committee; it is our community’s plan and won’t work unless the community continues to give ideas and input.
To schedule a visioning speaker to update a group or organization on the process or to join the email list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[The writer, Zaheer Faruqi, is president of Aventure Aviation, a company that has in the past been selected by the federal Small Business Administration as Exporter of the Year for Georgia and Exporter of the Year for the Southeast Region, and has been on the list of INC Magazine’s 500|5000, the list of most successful private companies in the USA, for the past three consecutive years. He can be reached on his email, Zaheer@aventureaviation.com.]