Aviation on the Rise Part 2

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Yesterday, News 4 told you of a growing trend of aviation manufacturing plants in the southeast. It's already generating millions of dollars into the local economy.

The revenue isn't the only positive impact. One local school system is really seeing an increase because of this new demand.

After years of working in the textile industry, four women are going back to school, essentially starting over, this time in aviation.

Many students at Enterprise-Ozark Community College's Aviation Campus are students didn't come just because they wanted to do something new. In fact, many came from the closing of their company, and one of Alabama’s largest textile manufacturers, Van Heusen.

"We checked into aviation and found out that it was good money and good benefits and that's what we were kind of use to: the hands-on work" says Kim Goolsby, EOCC student.

"Students often say to us when they come they've been displaced out of one of these jobs and they've been there 10-15 years and they are just devastated at the moment. They say, 'oh my gosh, this is the worst thing that's happened to me. I've lost my job.' But in 24 months later, being hired on with one of our industry partners in the aviation industry, they come back to us and say, 'oh gracious, you told me that this is the best thing that could've happened to me because now I've come through this tough time and I'm now making much more money and much more stable career I was than when I was in my previous job.' They make good employees because they've been out there working, they know what it means to go to work, to get there on time and to do their job, to be dependable. They just make fantastic employees. We're pleased to have them and you're going to see a lot of success stories out of these folks," says Tom Kirk, EOCC Technical Director.

One woman has a little help going back to school. That's because she has one daughter that recently graduated college and other about to finish up.

"It was really weird for me. Here I have the girls in school, and I'm looking at hopefully my youngest daughter graduating in May and me in the following August. So, now we compare study habits and things like that," says Kathy Kelley, EOCC student.

But this is the growing trend. School leaders and state officials say they are seeing an increase in aviation enrollment.

"We're up about 20 percent this term on the Ozark Campus and about 47 percent up with our Mobile Campus.

"They're going to use the latest technology, the latest training methods. We are going to do everything we can to make that the best aviation training school in the United States," says Governor Bob Riley.

How long will this rise in aviation last? Over the last two days, I’ve showed you how the aviation industry is starting to expand in the Southeast.

State and local officials say many of these contracts are for a ten-year period, but they expect to keep the business strong for a lot longer. School officials say they expect even more of an increase than this year in the years to come.

If you would like to learn more about aviation training and maintenance, and how you could get a job in the field stop by the Enterprise Ozark Community College Aviation Campus or call 774-5113 for more information.