Sun, June 23, 2024

April goes out with an economic development boom

April has been a busy month for economic development with multi-million dollar projects announced in Richmond and Columbia counties.

The latest is the April 30 announcement by StandardAero of a $33 million expansion of its operations at Augusta Regional Airport. The company provides aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul services.

The project will add more than 80,000 square feet of hangar space, and an engine shop, to the company’s existing buildings. That is a 60% increase in space and will allow the company to work on larger aircraft said Chris Bodine, Vice President and General Manager of StandardAero’s Augusta facility.

“The current facility was built in the 1970’s, when aircraft were a lot smaller. The new facility will allow us to support additional super mid-size to large cabin aircraft for airframe and avionics, while also significantly expanding our engine shop to further support many of those aircraft.”

Tony Brancato, President of Business Aviation, told the more than 100 people attending the Tuesday groundbreaking that 2024 marks StandardAero’s 50th year in Augusta.

“Over that time, we’ve grown our staff to nearly 200 talented professionals and we’ve serviced thousands of engines and aircraft for business aviation customers from around the world right here in Augusta, right here in these facilities,” he said.

Augusta Mayor Garnett Johnson said the announcement marked the culmination of lengthy discussions with the business, Richmond County, the airport, and leadership of the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Augusta Economic Development Authority (AEDA).

“What many people don’t know is this is one of the highest-paying employers in our region,” he added. “These jobs that are going to be created today, as a result of this work, are going to lead us into the next generation. So, we’re very supportive. We’re very proud.”

Herbert Judon, Jr., Executive Director of the airport, told ABD this expansion is a vital component of his efforts to grow the airport.

“It’s going to mean more aircraft activity at the airport. So, more operations for the airport, more fuel sales, and more landing fees. As I mentioned in my comments, these types of business often spur additional spin-off type companies,” he said. “This makes the airport stronger from a financial standpoint, having that diversification.”

Cal Wray, President of AEDA, told the crowd this was one of the first projects his team began working on when he came to Augusta in 2018. He said a major reason companies like StandardAero come to Augusta, or expand existing operations, is a talented, skilled workforce.

“The number one question industry asks now ‘Where can I get my workers? What are my training programs?’” he told ABD. “So, it’s the one vital driver of why companies locate, because we have skilled employees, we have training programs to further skill employees and that is one of the driving factors of why we have the industry in the community and why new industries are coming here.”

The StandardAero announcement was the latest of four multi-million dollar projects getting underway. On April 1, ground was broken for the new Columbia County hospital. That was followed by expansions announced at Club Car in the White Oak Business Park and Syensqo off Tobacco Road in Richmond County.

Construction on the StandardAero expansion is expected to take about a year. It will hire about 100 additional employees. The company will post employment opportunities on its website

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