Aerospace Jobs To Come?

Meridian, Miss. Meridian is being considered as a site for three aerospace projects. The president of the Meridian Airport Authority says the inquiries are due to upgrades that have been made. Last fall the airport completed a six year effort which significantly increased the amount of available space.

With completion of the taxiway last September, Meridian Regional Airport now has a 130 acre industrial site. It's being marketed as a prime location for maintenance, repair and overhaul work for aircraft. If chosen by a company to do this type work, MRA president, Tom Williams says this could mean more high paying jobs for Meridian.

"For an air frame power plant mechanic you're in the high teens per hour to $20 to $25 an hour, depending on your experience and abilities," says Williams. "For sheet metal workers and people who don't' have that license, you're still looking at the mid-teens to $20 an hour. So, these are good jobs that we're looking to bring if we can land one of these."

"No other community in the state of Mississippi has a 10,004 foot runway, and in addition to the site we have the workforce," says Wade Jones, who is president for the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation. "Think about Naval Air Station Meridian, and the retiring members from that employment base; there are 3,300 employees at NAS Meridian. More importantly think about the Air National Guard and the 700 part-time guardsmen who have these skill sets in aerospace."

Because aerospace projects are few and far between, the competition is stiff. However, with Mississippi Power Company deeming the Key Field site as 'project ready,' both Jones and Williams are hopeful.

"You work hard. You hope something comes through, but it's all about preparation and we have prepared," says Williams.

Meridian's airport sits on an 863 acre site with two runways, and a heavy duty taxiway.