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'Project Titan' Gets Federal Funding

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Thirteen months after the start of operations, ST Engineering in Pensacola is gearing up for more growth. Project Titan is getting a boost from Uncle Sam through an Economic Development Grant.

“I have an announcement to make today,” said John Fleming, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.

“I’m announcing that the United States Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) is investing $12.25 million in the City of Pensacola to help establish a new aircraft maintenance facility – much like this one – that will be here at the Pensacola International Airport.”

Speaking inside the hangar at ST Engineering, Fleming went on to say that the facility will be used for the training of workers in commercial and technological aviation, and help create more than 400 jobs.

The federal grant will be matched by more than $36 million in local and state funding.

“Today we’re looking at launching Project Titan. Where you sit today is our first development in Pensacola, our first hangar; soon, Project Titan Element-1 will come online,” said Bill Hafner, President of ST Aerospace Mobile.

The first hangar of the buildout will be similar to the existing one -- around 175,000 sq. ft. – and able to withstand 170 mph winds. A significant difference will be the attachment of a very large support services center – about 65,000 sq. ft.

“The Support Services Center will enclose all of our customer reps’ offices; it will have our engineering areas, it will have our procurement, our logistics management will be there,” Hafner said. “Our efforts here are to make smart MROs [maintenance, repair, and overhaul] – removing wasted labor and time, and putting hands to work that is meaningful and beneficial to all.”

Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
Bill Hafner, President, ST Aerospace Mobile.

Construction on that hangar, just to the south of the current facility is set to begin next year. On the west side of the facility, Hafner says two much larger hangars – in excess of 200,000 sq. ft. are planned.

“Today we can house four, mid-size narrow-body aircraft in here; in those hangars we’re going to be able to house four wide-body aircraft side-by-side,” said Hafner. “So, for a total of eight wide-bodies on the west side of the field, or as many as 6-8 narrow-bodies of this size, to as many as 12 of the smaller narrow-body aircraft.”

What the grant and matching dollars also do, says Hafner, is make it possible for ST Engineering to operate, along with helping to develop the region’s economy through an eventual 2,000-plus member workforce.

“We’re going to have a lot of opportunities for the folks in northwest Florida and the City of Pensacola,” said Hafner. “We’re going to have procurement here; we’re going to have engineering staff here. We’re going to have facilities maintenance and ground support staff here. Planning, quality assurance, quality control. Varied and broad opportunities for the people of northwest Florida to come work with us here.”

“This is a team effort; we’re very proud of the relationship that we have,” said Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson. “We’re so excited to have ST Engineering here in Pensacola, Florida. And we believed for a long time we could be involved in aviation.”

Robinson also gave a shout out to ST’s employees, many of whom took time from work to attend the ceremony.

“It is you that proved Pensacola has the skill and the labor to be able to provide these kind of jobs and do this kind of work here,” said the Mayor. “We’re going to work hard to make sure this is the quality kind of city you want to live in. So thank you very much for what you do; we’re certainly appreciative.”

Much of Project Titan’s $210 million price tag is already in place from a number of sources – the City of Pensacola, Escambia County, State of Florida, Triumph Gulf Coast, and ST Engineering. The city still has to pony up another five million.