GALLIPOLIS — Leaders from across the region met Wednesday morning to review an assessment for five counties regarding the possibility of the aerospace industry.
Gallia, Mason, Lawrence, and Jackson Counties in Ohio and West Virginia have been certified as AEROready communities based on their available resources and other data about the region. These five counties will be added onto an existing region called Appalachian Sky that is located along US 23 through eastern Kentucky.
According to Tuscon Roberts and Robert Ingram, who founded the AEROready organization, this certification and continuing program is designed to help rural communities join together with their resources to help bring in companies in the aerospace industry and increase jobs in the region through recruitment and marketing.
All five of the counties, including Gallia and Mason, are certified through AEROready and are now a part of the larger marketing and recruitment system called Appalachian Sky.
In a joint presentation, Roberts explained that aerospace jobs have a significant impact on the local economy. AEROready looked at 74 necessary job skills in the region and their availability should aerospace jobs come to the region. These skills ranged from truck driving and welding to manufacturing and engineering.
While any one county would not have the skilled labor to support much of the industry, although their research and industry experience show that workers are willing to commute up to 100 miles for high enough wages. Part of the report compared the region to other major aerospace markets across the country, including Los Angeles and San Jose regions of California.
Compared to Los Angeles, Appalachian Sky pays approximately $30,000 a year less in wages for the same skilled labor, according to Roberts. He also made the same comparison to San Jose, which pays approximately $97,000 a year more for the same labor than Appalachian Sky.
These competitive wages along with the readiness of the workforce, proximity to other industries, and quality of life make the region an excellent candidate for the aerospace industry.
Gallia County in particular was chosen considering the existing education facilities nearby relating to manufacturing and technology, prime land for development towards industrial use, and access to river and railroad transportation. The proximity to nearby metropolitan areas was also considered by AEROready.
Mason County features many of the same benefits as Gallia, including substantial river transportation access and US 35, proximity to already certified AEROready counties, and adequate available property already in place help make Mason County AEROready certified.
While both Gallia and Mason are now AEROready certified for the aerospace industry, officials in both counties will have to work with Appalachian Sky towards recruiting companies to invest in the region and market the resources available.
“The AEROready Certification will provide our community another tool in the toolbox as we work to attract new investment and jobs to Gallia County,” said Melissa Clark, Gallia County Economic Director. “By joining the existing Appalachian Sky initiative and with the support of AEP, the AEROready designation will help provide assurance to private industry that our region can support the aerospace industry.”
AEROready is a private consulting firm that helps rural communities assess their resources pertaining to the aerospace industry, which includes manufacturing, repair, overhaul, and maintenance of airplanes and objects that fly beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.