You may have noticed the numerous helicopter monuments across the Wiregrass and there's a reason.
News 4's Denise Bradberry joined the Association of the United States Army Thursday in Ozark where Neal Wade, the Director of Alabama’s Development Office explained the importance of aviation to the state's economy.
Neal Wade told AUSA members the turning point in Alabama’s economy was when Mercedes moved in.
“When they decided to choose Alabama over North Carolina and South Carolina they sent a message that this was a state you ought to take a look at,” says Wade.
Now Alabama ranks as the 5th highest auto producer in the country.
“Today, and this may surprise you, it may not, more Alabamians work in aviation, aerospace defense technology than in automotive,” says Wade.
He believes cities in the Wiregrass have an advantage because companies are looking less at incentives and more at the community.
“It makes it so much easier for us to sell your area and promote your area because this is a great place to live and work and worship and raise children and have a work force and you’re part of that,” says Wade.
In Daleville they know first had just how big of an impact the aviation industry has on the Wiregrass.
“If it weren't for aviation we wouldn't be what we are. That's for sure,” says Daleville Mayor Wes Etheredge.
Since Daleville is the home to the largest helicopter simulation facility in the world... They're looking forward to the future.
“Fort Rucker is the home of Army Aviation. Flight students are picking up several hundred more next year so we're looking at growing. Some of our companies have already adding on to some of their buildings. We already have more simulators coming in in the next few months so we're growing and aviation is the thing right now for us,” says Etheredge.
The governor's office has just announced that General Electric Aviation will create an environmental coatings facility for military jet engines in Alabama.
They're still working with the Development Office on selecting an exact location.
The governor's office says the new facility will require a highly skilled and flexible workforce and they expect to collaborate with the state's university system.