The aerospace manufacturing sector has seen steady growth in the U.S. in recent years, with Boeing and Airbus announcing new facilities that are spurring the creation of dozens of supplier operations. Now, California's XCOR Aerospace is headed to Florida's famed Space Coast to set up a new East Coast operation, where it says it will eventually build a new manufacturing plant and assembly center.
The site will be used to develop the company's XCOR Lynx Mark II suborbital launch vehicles. Once the plant is fully staffed, it will support about 150 aerospace jobs, which will focus on assembly and factory testing of the model vehicles. The company said it plans to begin assembly operations in 2014.
"Seeing the history of U.S. human spaceflight and realizing that soon XCOR will be a part of the fabric of the Space Coast is very exciting to me personally and our company," said Jeff Greason, XCOR CEO. "When we started the company back in 1999, we could only have dreamt about the possibility of flying the person on the street or the citizen scientist to space from such an important place."
Gray Swoope, president and CEO of Enterprise Florida Inc., the state’s major economic development organization, stated that the Space Coast will be a perfect home for XCOR's new facility, and the manufacturing capabilities and jobs that will be created are indicative of the region's improving economy.
Outside Florida, the entire industry appears to be growing, and aerospace staffing is growing along with it. According to Crain's Cleveland Business, Voss Industries LLC, an aerospace parts maker in Cleveland, stated the demand for commercial aircraft is putting air under his business' wings, leading him to hire more workers.
The parts supplier said its revenue was up 25 percent in 2011 compared with 2010, which came from bigger orders from large companies like Boeing and Airbus. With such demand for parts, Daniel Sedor Sr., president and CEO of Voss, said the company has had to greatly expand its workforce, the media outlet stated.
In the last two years, Voss has increased its workforce to 335, and in 2012 alone, has hired 80 new aerospace manufacturing employees. The company says it will spend $1 million on new, advanced equipment like computer numerical control, which will lead to a need for more workers with the skills to operate the machines.
In the next year, Sedor said the company will likely hire another 10 employees for its commercial aircraft wing and pump another $750,000 in high-tech equipment.
Voss is one of many aerospace companies that have seen great success lately and had to up their workforce in response.
"The Ohio companies like Voss that are in the supply chain in aviation have been doing well," said Michael Heil, CEO of the Cleveland-based Ohio Aerospace Institute. "Aerospace is still an export industry for the U.S."
From Florida to Ohio and across the rest of the country, analysts agree the aerospace industry will likely continue to grow and add workers in the near future.
"Barring a significant slowdown in global economic activity, that should lead to steady production growth for at least the next two to three years," said Yair Reneir, executive director and senior analyst for aerospace and defense electronics at Oppenheimer & Co.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 473,120 people were employed in the aerospace product and parts manufacturing industry in 2010.