Florida’s Great Northwest -- the region’s economic development marketing organization -- is sending a five-member delegation to Great Britain in hopes of securing aviation jobs for this region.
The entourage will attend the Farnborough Air Show – an event in southeastern England where aviation firms get together to wheel and deal in the latest aircraft, helicopters and related goods and services.
Larry Sassano, president of Florida’s Great Northwest, says everybody who’s anybody in aviation and aerospace will be at the air show, which is held every two years alternating with the equally prestigious Paris Air Show.
“We’ve been doing a lot of branding with the help of all of our partners,” said Sassano, “And I think that message has finally decided to hit home with some of these suppliers. Plus, we’ve got Airbus to the west of us.”
The Airbus plant, now under construction in Mobile, is set to open in 2017.
Sassano, who’s been attending Farnborough for about three decades. He says they have appointments over the four-day event with leading companies.
“Chances are you’re going to meet with the president, the chairman, or the senior vice president of operations,” Sassano said. “They only go to the major shows like this. And if you get a 30-minute meeting with them, it could be a big deal because they can tell their vice presidents ‘let’s look at northwest Florida; it looks like a good market.’”
More than 70 billion dollars in aviation transactions were made at Farnborough in 2012. Sassano says such business is of prime importance for northwest Florida, which is home to six military bases and an average of six thousand military personnel transitioning to civilian life each year.
Joining Sassano are John Hutchinson of Gulf Power; Ed Gardner with PowerSouth Corporation, Scott Luth from the Greater Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce, and Neal Wade with the Bay County Economic Development Alliance.
Representatives from the state of Florida will be on hand as well to tout statewide incentives in workforce and taxes. Sassano says they plan to work as closely as possible with them.
The Pensacola-area group departs for the U.K. on Wednesday. The Farnborough Air Show runs from July 14-20. Scheduled attractions include the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, some of which are housed at Eglin Air Force Base; the Textron Airland Scorpion, and the latest in drones.