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VT Mobile Coming to Pensacola

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It’s official.

Pensacola is the new home for a portion of V-T Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Inc. -- formerly known as ST Mobile Aerospace Engineering. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody reports on how the project originally code-named “Project Stallion” came to fruition.

Meeting in special session Tuesday, the Pensacola City Council voted 7-0 to approve the 30-year lease – which was signed immediately after adjournment. Mayor Ashton Hayward says the City will construct an aircraft hangar complex on 19 acres adjacent to Pensacola International Airport, then lease it to VT MAE for 30-years.

“Today’s about taking action on our city’s promise and potential,” said Hayward. “This lease not only establishes a partnership with one of the world’s largest MRO providers in the world, but also gives Pensacola a clear foothold into the aviation and aerospace industries.”

When operations begin in mid-2016, VT-MAE will provide aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul – MRO -- services for both commercial airlines and air freight operators. The hangar will be able to house two wide-body aircraft at once.

Scott Luth with the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce told the Council that the deal also calls for the creation of at least 300 full-time jobs.

“The average salary for each one of these positions – and this will be across the facility – will be an average wage of $41,000 (per year),” said Luth. “That is a base wage. That does not include any type of retirement or those types of benefits that would be associated with that.”

Cost of the project is $37 million. Part of the funding comes from the Local Option Sales Tax -- in the form of a $3.2 million loan by Escambia County to the City of Pensacola. According to the Haas Business Center at UWF, the VT-MAE facility is expected to pump about $61 million annually into the local economy.

Tuesday’s announcement concludes the nearly two-year campaign by the City of Pensacola, Escambia County, the local Chamber and other economic development partners. VT MAE is a subsidiary of Singapore-based ST Engineering.

One of the next steps is training the plant’s workforce, through programs at George Stone Technical Center, Pensacola State College, and the University of West Florida.

A spokeswoman in the Mayor’s office says groundbreaking will not take place anytime soon, as the design process is just now taking off. 

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.