Politics & Government
1:49 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Countdown to Election: Al District 1

U.S. voters are just a few weeks shy of casting their ballot for president. Both candidates have discussed several issues during their campaigns, with economic recovery taking the forefront. That’s an issue that resonates with residents in Alabama’s first congressional district, which includes Mobile. Several developments over the summer are spurring economic growth in the coastal city, including an agreement with Airbus.

“This summer they [Airbus] announced a $600 million investment into the Mobile area to put a final assembly line for the A-320 aircraft, which is one of their bestselling aircrafts, and one of the bestselling aircrafts of its size in the market," says Troy Wayman with Mobile’s Chamber of Commerce. “So, we’re excited to have that happen here.”

“What that means for us and for the whole Gulf Coast region is just a significant increase in the international presence that we already have in the area with a number of a number of international companies that are located here,” says Wayman. “It puts us on the map, so to speak, for the airspace industry; it gives us a very recognizable international name in the airspace industry, one of the tops in the industry that we can now boast to make their home, their United States home, for assembly here in Mobile.”

Australian-based shipbuilder Austal USA also announced an economic agreement with Mobile. Their expansion will add another 1,000 jobs to the area.

“Austal has been a great success story since they first located here,” says Wayman. “They started a few years ago with 100 employees and are soon to be at the 4,000 mark with the contracts that they have got, not to mention the significant capital investment that they have put in the ground here.”

U.S. Representative Jo Bonner is running unopposed in the November 6 general election. Wayman says the U.S. Congressman will need to foster the relationship between Mobile and Washington to continue economic growth in the area. 

Interview Transcript:

(Troy Wayman, Mobile Chamber of Commerce): We have a number of advantages. We have a significant logistical advantage, when you consider Interstate 10 and Interstate 65 intersecting here giving us east-west and northern exposure for transportation. We also have access to a number of inland water ways and we also have, of course, the state docks, the state port, and the container terminal located here that all give us significant logistical advantages.

(Maggie Martin): There were some big economic announcements for the area over the summer. Let’s start with Air Bus, which announced construction of a new facility. Can you talk about that plan and what it means for the region?

(Wayman): This summer they announced a $600 million investment into the Mobile area to put a final assembly line for the A-320 aircraft, which is one of their best selling aircrafts, and one of the best selling aircrafts of its size in the market, so we’re excited to have that happen here. What that means for us and for the whole Gulf Coast region is just a significant increase in the international presence that we already have in the area with a number of a number of international companies that are located here. It puts us on the map, so to speak, for the airspace industry; it gives us a very recognizable international name in the airspace industry, one of the tops in the industry that we can now boast to make their home, their United States home, for assembly here in Mobile.

(Martin): Now there’s also Austal USA, which announced an expansion that will add another 1,000 jobs for the area. What does this mean for the coast?

(Wayman):  Austal has been a great success story since they first located here. They started a few years ago with 100 employees and are soon to be at the 4,000 mark with the contracts that they have got, not to mention the significant capital investment that they have put in the ground here. But when you look at a company like Austal that’s continuing to hire folks that’s on the grow, they are very aggressive in their work to attract contracts and they are very active in the community, it just means a lot to an area not just in the job growth, but in the international recognition that they bring being an Australian company and located here in Mobile. The improvements that they have made to our river, the waterfront areas along our river here in downtown, they really made quite an impact on the area. And as I said, they’re great corporate citizens, they’re very involved in our local workforce development efforts, and they are just an exciting company to have here in Mobile.

(Martin): Congressman Jo Bonner is running unopposed for the First Congressional District. What does he need to do to continue economic growth in the area?

(Wayman): I think just continued support that we are proud to have and very fortunate to have in Washington on the defense contracts that are being worked on here in the Mobile area, as well as the support that we have received through areas for the Restore Act, that support for the area has been phenomenal and we are very happy to see that that has happened, that that bill passed, and we look forward to, hopefully, seeing the benefits of that in the near future. So I think that continued support in Washington and just awareness of what’s happening here along the Gulf Coast, because we are at an exciting time in Mobile and the Mobile and Baldwin County areas, and we’re poised for some more significant growth and I think that it would be a shame if we didn’t take full advantage of the opportunity that we have ahead of us.

(Martin): Well Troy, thank you so much for your time this morning.

(Wayman): You're very welcome, Maggie.