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Southwest Louisiana ,
(Rick Hickman / American Press)

(Rick Hickman / American Press)

Editorial: AAR Corp. announcement good news for area

Last Modified: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 5:38 PM

Good economic news continues to stream into Southwest Louisiana.

The latest comes from last week’s announcement that AAR Corp. will locate at Chennault International Airpark, creating 500 more jobs at the facility.

The Illlinos-based company will assume the lease formerly held by troubled Aeroframe Services. AAR is expected to retain the bulk of Aeroframe’s 250-man workforce. The state Louisiana Department of Economic Development said AAR’s arrival will also create more than 500 indirect jobs.

‘‘Chennault continues to be one of the biggest economic drivers in Southwest Louisiana and our entire state,’’ Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a news release. ‘‘In addition to a world-class workforce and an outstanding business climate, Louisiana offers extraordinary sites like Chennault International Airport that make our state a leader in logistics and infrastructure. All of these resources contribute to Louisiana’s economic momentum, and AAR is one of many companies that have taken notice as they continue to invest here, creating more great opportunities for our people.”

Ranked among the Top 100 defense contractors in the world, AAR’s client list includes American, Delta, United and Southwest Airlines, UPS and FedEx and the United States and the United Kingdom governments and militaries. Chennault Executive Director Randy Robb said the company is the largest aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul organization in the United States and the third-largest in the world. The company’s other MRO facilities are located in Indianapolis, Miami, Oklahoma City, Duluth, Minn., and Hot Springs, Ark.

“The AAR presence will expand the types and numbers of aircraft that will be worked at the Chennault facility,” said Robb. ‘‘Chennault anticipates significant growth in both jobs and commerce at the site. AAR selected the Chennault location based upon the fact that the facilities met their needs and because of the apparent teamwork they observed between the State of Louisiana, Calcasieu Parish, the City of Lake Charles and Chennault.”

But Chennault’s massive runway and taxiways and area leaders’ teamwork are just some of the assets that lured AAR here.

The state will use its FastStart program and Sowela Technical Community College to train aircraft maintenance workers. And the particulars of the deal were fleshed out in a two-month period.

‘‘There are a lot of people who worked around the clock to make this happen,’’ said Chamber/Southwest President George Swift.

In the competitive world of aircraft maintenance, this is a noteworthy victory for our area. And it represents one more ray of sunshine in a clear blue sky of good news for Southwest Louisiana.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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