Foreign companies continue to lay roots in Alabama, tap into workforce

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MOBILE, AL (Gray DC) -- Foreign companies continue to flock to Alabama and a key reason is the built in workforce. Manufacturing and engineering run through the blood of folks across the state. Mobile, AL is a port city that relies on global relationships. Numerous international brands have set up shop there.

Alabama has a history of manufacturing, making it easy for foreign companies to tap into the workforce. (Source: Gray DC)

“The employees here are just phenomenal folks,” said Craig Perciavelle, president of Austal USA.

Austal is a shipbuilding company based in Australia that laid its U.S. roots in Mobile 20 years ago. Port access and the ease of doing business in the state initially drew the company in, but the history of a manufacturing labor pool in Alabama sealed the deal.

“It’s because of that work ethic and that focus that we’ve been able to significantly reduce costs,” said Perciavelle.

He says Austal USA currently has one customer, the United States Navy. Perciavelle thinks the Navy chose this particular foreign company because Austal’s warships are superior and the team gets the job done fast. He says they have delivered 18 ships to the Navy since 2012.

“We’re a significant part of the U.S. Navy fleet going forward. And we don’t take that lightly and our employees don’t take that lightly,” said Perciavelle.

Another massive gain for Mobile came in 2015 when Airbus made the city the only in the U.S. to manufacture the A320. It also recently added the A220 to its portfolio.

The Dutch aircraft giant put down a $600 million investment to get closer to its customers, like American Airlines, Spirit Airlines and more than 20 others. Kristi Tucker, director of communications for Airbus Americas says the company plans to employ 1200 workers at its Mobile plant by the end of the year.

“We’re trying to show them careers and the various things that were coming with Airbus and with growth,” said Tucker.

Airbus has an immediate demand for high skilled labor. One of their methods for filling jobs is targeting students.

“Students who are interested in STEM. We need more women interested in STEM activities. We need more minorities interested in STEM activities because we want them. We want to hire them,” said Tucker.

The recruiting focus for the plant in Mobile is in the surrounding area, but because of the number of job openings, they are casting a net around the country for talent.

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