Waiting for the 'bus: Officials lay groundwork for Airbus projects

AIrbus 320 Hangar

A full-size mock-up of the Airbus A320 is built in Hangar 9 at the company's Hamburg works. The hangar is comparable to the assembly hangar to be built at the new Airbus plant in Mobile.

EDC / Special to the News Bulletin
Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 12:31 PM.

CRESTVIEW — Relationships that county officials and business leaders recently forged in Hamburg, Germany laid the foundation for growth at Bob Sikes Airport and its Industrial Air Park, Okaloosa County Commissioner and Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Wayne Harris said.

"It was the greatest thing we did in a long, long time," he said.

Representatives of 26 Northwest Florida counties, cities, government agencies and private industries gathered in Hamburg in December to promote the region as fertile turf to grow support services and suppliers for the Airbus plant coming to Mobile, Ala.

One of the group's main goals was to establish rapport with the company that will soon have a major impact on the region's economy, Harris said.

Okaloosa County had the second-highest representation, with 11 of the 35 regional delegates, Economic Development Council Director Nathan Sparks said during the chamber's Thursday Airport Committee meeting.

Comparing the other entities' presentations, it was evident that Bob Sikes Airport is better positioned than neighboring communities to immediately begin attracting small- to medium-sized businesses that will serve Airbus, officials said.

"We're the only one prepared to put manufacturing or aerospace out there," Harris said.

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