A sales trip to the world’s most important gathering of aerospace industry businesses, the Paris Air Show, has yielded three strong business leads for Pierce County, say local officials who made the trip.
Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and Tacoma-Pierce County Economic Development Board Chief Executive Officer Bruce Kendall said Thursday that two European avionics companies and one American testing concern have shown strong interest in Pierce County.
McCarthy and Kendall were part of a 100-member Washington delegation to the air show at Le Bourget airport outside Paris this week.
The two said they had meetings with 31 companies over the 4-day run of the business-to-business part of the show. That part of the show for aerospace companies and others ended Thursday.
“This is like a trade show on steroids,” said McCarthy. “Business is getting done here. Its not just an exhibition of airplane parts.”
Three Pierce County aerospace suppliers also took part in the show.
Kendall said one of the European companies intends to come to Washington and Pierce County in July to scout out possible business locations.
Numerous other states brought delegations to the show, said Kendall including South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Connecticut and New York.
The southern states, which have been successful in attracting major aircraft manufacturers — Boeing in South Carolina and Airbus in Alabama — are touting their low-cost, non-union labor and land giveaways to companies that will locate in their states, said Kendall.
But those states are still small players in the aerospace business compared with Washington, said Kendall.
South Carolina, for instance, has about 6,000 aerospace workers and a handful of training programs for aerospace jobs. Washington, in contrast, has 130,000 aerospace workers and training programs in dozens of schools and universities focusing on aerospace occupations, said Kendall.
The southern states’ delegations at this year’s show, said the economic development official, are smaller than he encountered at the show two years ago, and their physical presence at airshow booths was lower profile than in the past.