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Tuskegee Mayor Haygood: T-100 manufacturing facility will lift region

TUSKEGEE, Alabama – Sitting in the back seat of an F-16 jet on a flight over Tuskegee, Mayor Tony Haygood looked down at Moton Field and envisioned the historic airfield’s future as the production site of the U.S. Air Force’s next jet training aircraft.

“From that height, it is amazing how you can see the whole layout of things at Moton Field and where the runway expansion would be,” Haygood said. “There’s plenty of space for it, and we’ll be doing some other improvements.”

Earlier this year, global aerospace company Leonardo selected Moton Field as the manufacturing site for its T-100 advanced trainer jet if the Air Force chooses the aircraft as its next-generation trainer. The project would bring 750 jobs to the airfield where the pilots of the Tuskegee Airmen received their training.

Haygood, who is traveling to Italy with an Alabama delegation to tour a Leonardo aircraft factory this week, said an in-depth look at the company’s manufacturing operation will assist Macon County’s preparations for the Tuskegee facility.

“This is like advance preparation that gives us an opportunity to see, hear, and understand how we need to get ready,” he said.

Made In Alabama caught up with Haygood in Tuskegee before the Alabama team departed so he could share his insights on the Leonardo T-100 jet trainer project planned for Moton Field. Here’s what he said.

Q: What would the Leonardo T-100 manufacturing facility mean for Tuskegee and the region?

A: It would be a tremendous boost to this community. For Tuskegee, it would be the largest project we’ve had in our history. It would be a big boost for the entire economy of South Central Alabama and would impact the entire state as well. For us, it would mean high-quality jobs, and it would trigger a revitalization of our entire economy.

Q: Can the area provide the workforce for the Leonardo T-100 facility?

A: We can provide a quality workforce, and we will have assistance from the state. Go back to the Tuskegee Airmen. People didn’t think they could fly advanced aircraft, but given the opportunity and the training, they not only flew, they excelled. It’s really the same story today. Give people the opportunity, give them the support, and we can develop the workforce and the expertise that is needed.

Q: You’ve met with the Leonardo team several times. What is your impression of the company?

A: They’re very sharp, very focused. They’ve done their homework in terms of providing the Air Force with a product at a competitive price, and they understand the challenges that are before us as we make this bid. They have a quality trainer jet that can compete against anyone else’s. They’ve analyzed this area and came here several times to look at what needs to be done here, what we had to offer, and what makes this a good site. Since they made their decision in favor of Tuskegee, they’ve been a great partner.

Q: Does the T-100 project have the backing of the community in Tuskegee?

A: The community has really stepped up to embrace this project. They realize there are things we’ve got to do to get ready, and they’re just asking what they can do. Every part of this community is excited about this opportunity. It’s not just excitement; they’ve expressed a willingness to do what needs to be done. The entire community has responded, and we’re doing a number of things to get ready.

Q: One of the interesting things about this project is the historical link with the Tuskegee Airmen, who flew missions during World War II from bases in Italy. Do you feel the connection?

A: It’s like reaching back to the future. You’re going back to the foundation laid by the Tuskegee Airmen, and the good relationship they had with the Italians while based at the airfield in Ramitelli. The positive exchange they had back then with the Italians has come full circle to impact us today. They’re coming back to help us launch a whole new era. It’s a continuation of the Tuskegee Airmen story, which is powerful in itself, and it’s bringing us to a new level.

By Jerry Underwood, Made In Alabama

Alabama team to tour Leonardo aircraft factory to advance T-100 project

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield is leading an Alabama delegation traveling today to Italy, where the group will meet with executives of aerospace giant Leonardo and tour a factory where the company manufactures a jet trainer aircraft that could one day be produced in Alabama.

Earlier this year, Leonardo announced plans to build a manufacturing facility at Tuskegee’s Moton Field for production of its advanced T-100 jet. For the project to move forward at the historic home of the Tuskegee Airmen, the T-100 must be selected as the U.S. Air Force’s next trainer aircraft.

The Alabama team’s three-day mission to Italy will give state leaders and Macon County officials a first-hand look at Leonardo’s manufacturing facility in Venegono, near Milan, where it produces M-346 trainers already in use by several countries. The M-346 is the basis for the company’s T-100 aircraft.

The objective of the mission is to help advance preparations already under way in Alabama for the development of the manufacturing facility at Moton Field and its 750-strong workforce.

“Leonardo has been a great partner, and we want to make sure that we are prepared to move forward without delays on the T-100 production center in Tuskegee as soon as the Air Force decision is announced,” Secretary Canfield said.

“This means we must have all the infrastructure components and worker training programs in place to make this critically important program a success from Day 1.”

BUILDING A PARTNERSHIP

Joining the Alabama team will be executives from Leonardo DRS, the company’s U.S. subsidiary that is taking the lead on the project; Honeywell Aerospace, which will provide the F124 turbofan engines for the T-100; and CAE, which will provide a sophisticated integrated training system for the aircraft.

“Our plan is to build a state-of-the-art T-100 manufacturing facility in Tuskegee, Alabama, that expands upon the success of our production center which has been actively producing M-346 jets for many years,” said Marc Lindsley, program director for the T-100 team.

“We are excited to show this delegation our operational manufacturing line to demonstrate why the T-100 will be a jobs creator as well as a low-risk option for the U.S. Air Force,” Lindsley added.

Other Alabama officials on the mission are Steve Pelham, chief of staff to Governor Kay Ivey, and Ed Castile, director of AIDT, the state’s primary workforce development agency, and a deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“I’m extremely supportive of Leonardo’s efforts to make the T-100 manufacturing facility in Tuskegee a reality,” Governor Ivey said.

“I’m committed to building a long-lasting partnership with the company so it can provide the U.S. Air Force with a high-performance trainer aircraft that’s made in Alabama by the best workforce in the nation.”

Also included in the Alabama delegation are Tuskegee Mayor Tony Haygood, state Rep. Pebblin Warren, and other Macon County officials.

“This will give us a better sense of what kind of adjustments we need to make in our community in terms of infrastructure, facilities, and manpower to develop this plant for Leonardo at Moton Field,” Haygood said. “That way, we’ll know exactly what we need to do and not have to try and figure it out.”

DECISION IN 2018

A decision from the Air Force on its next-generation trainer aircraft is expected in March. The Air Force plans to acquire 350 advanced jet trainers to replace its 1950s-era Northrop T-38 aircraft.

Leonardo already supplies a version of the T-100 by way of the M-346 trainer jet to Israel, Poland, Singapore, and Italy.

The Leonardo facility would join a network of key military resources in that region of the state.

These include Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, home to Air University, the service’s center for professional military education; Fort Rucker, the Army’s primary training facility for helicopter pilots since 1955; and a CAE facility in Dothan that provides training for the Army’s fixed-wing pilots.

The project would bring production of the Air Force’s trainer jet to the site where the celebrated Tuskegee Airmen received their training.

The unit of African-American pilots, known as the “Red Tails,” flew fighter planes from bases in Italy during World War II. Their combat successes helped lead to the desegregation of the U.S. military in the late 1940s and later provided a spark for the Civil Rights movement.

By Jerry Underwood, Made In Alabama

Local startups win at Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad Finale

Three teams from East Alabama walked away with their share of $100,000 after the Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad Finale in Auburn on Wednesday, April 4.

Energy H2O received the top prize of $50,000 for its innovative concept to produce energetic, healthier bottled water. Tennibot received $40,000 for its robotic tennis ball collector, and FoPark received $10,000 for its simplified parking management system.

The Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad competition, a partnership between the City of Auburn, Auburn University’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, Auburn Research & Technology Foundation (ARTF), is a collaboration with the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama’s Alabama Launchpad program. The program has allowed startups from Chambers, Lee, Macon, Russell and Tallapoosa counties to compete for a share of funding and receive valuable mentoring.

The regional competition began with 11 teams that presented their startup ideas to a panel of judges at the first round of the competition on Feb. 8. The winners of the finale event were among six teams, including Beyond Home Care, InhiProt and NanoXort, selected to advance to the finale. They again pitched their companies to judges at the ALFA Pavilion at Ag Heritage Park on Wednesday night.

Auburn University men’s basketball Assistant Coach Steven Pearl spoke during the event, reminding startups to take risks, learn from their failures and continue moving forward. Auburn Mayor Bill Ham also spoke about the significance of startups and innovative business concepts to the community and its economy.

“This competition is a great example of not only the innovation in Auburn, but the entrepreneurship throughout East Alabama,” Ham said. “We’re proud of not only the winners, but of everyone who participated and we wish them the best as they continue to grow and make our area even stronger.”

Other startups interested in connecting with Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad and other available resources in East Alabama can contact Arndt Siepmann, the City of Auburn’s industrial development director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (334) 501-7270.

Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad would like to thank Alabama Power, Auburn Bank, Borbet Alabama and Spire for sponsoring the finale event.

About Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad

Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad is a partnership of the City of Auburn, Auburn University’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, Auburn Research & Technology Foundation (ARTF) and Alabama Launchpad. Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad helps entrepreneurs and businesses in the Auburn region through funding, startup competitions, resources and more. Auburn Regional Alabama Launchpad helps companies start, stay and grow in the Auburn region, while supporting, advocating and recognizing entrepreneurship locally and statewide.

About Alabama Launchpad

Alabama Launchpad, a program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, helps high growth companies start, stay, and grow in Alabama, while supporting, advocating, and recognizing entrepreneurship statewide. Started in 2006, Alabama Launchpad encourages innovation and job growth in the state through startup competitions, the EDPA 2018 imerge Innovation Awards, and imerge, an event to celebrate innovation in Alabama.

By David D. Dorton, Auburn News

Click here to view the original announcement.

T-100 Community Advocacy

We have established an online community of T-100 advocacy at airmenlegacy.com. The website is packed with T-100 resources including: contact information for Washington DC elected officials; T-100 project summary; talking points; renderings of the proposed manufacturing plant; newsroom with links to T-100 media coverage; and access to T-100 related videos.

Why Our Team is Confident

Leonardo DRS has the best training jet at the lowest cost. The company also is showing tremendous respect to the Tuskegee Airmen. Leonardo DRS chose Moton Field as the site for its T-100 manufacturing assembly plant to honor the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, who learned to fly Red Tail airplanes at this same airfield.

T-100 Potential Impact

  • $300 million manufacturing plant
  • To be built at Moton Field
  • Construction jobs
  • 750 high-paying, permanent jobs
  • Ripple effect as suppliers locate in this area
  • Even more jobs

Read more about the T-100 here.

Korean logistics company LogisAll to open $4 million Alabama facility

Korean logistics company LogisAll plans to open a facility in Macon County that will serve the bustling Interstate 85 automotive manufacturing corridor, creating between 40 and 60 jobs in the plant’s first year of operation.

LogisAll will initially invest $4 million in its new Alabama facility, which will receive, quality-test, inventory and distribute auto parts and components along the I-85 auto production corridor, anchored by the Hyundai and Kia assembly plants. At a ceremony this morning, LogisAll officials cut the ribbon on their new, 40,000-square-foot facility off Exit 22 in Shorter.

“Alabama has a positive business climate, a robust logistics network and a great workforce, which are important components to job creation,” Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said. “I honored to see LogisAll open this facility in Macon County and look forward to working with the company to ensure their operation is a success.”

LogisAll’s brand new facility was built by Auburn-based Bailey-Harris Construction Co. and marketed by the Macon County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA). Joe Turnham, the MCEDA’s director who worked on the project for six months, said LogisAll is a great fit for Shorter and Macon County.

“LogisAll took advantage of our central location in the automotive supply corridor and our state-of-the-art facility.” Turnham said. “Industry is now recognizing Macon County as a preferred place to do business and our local leadership has responded to this opportunity – we could not be more pleased with the results.”

FOCUS ON WORKFORCE

Macon County, located just minutes from the Hyundai assembly plant in Montgomery, has targeted auto industry jobs. Earlier this month, Trenholm State Community College announced that it had received a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to train Macon County residents for jobs in the auto sector over the next two years. The grant and in-kind services total $2.1 million.

“Workforce development is central to our efforts in industrial recruitment; we want to be known as a place of excellence where companies know our citizens are ready for the jobs they bring,” Shorter Mayor Willie Mae Powell said.

LogisAll will hire truck drivers, warehouse operations specialists as well as inspectors and logistics personnel over the next six months to a year.

“We are seeing continued growth in the support system for Alabama’s automotive industry, which is fueling the creation of new jobs in places like Shorter,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Macon County’s central location and its transportation assets make it ideal for a logistics company like LogisAll.”

By Jerry Underwood, Made In Alabama

Contact us

MCEDA
Joe Turnham
Director
608 Dibble Street, Suite 7
Tuskegee, AL 36083
334.444.2672
info@madeinmacon.com