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Illinois announced two aviation-related projects this week

Friday, Sep 17, 2021

* Today…

Governor JB Pritzker joined Boeing and community leaders to announce that the company will be investing $200 million to build a state-of-the-art facility to produce the MQ-25 Stingray, the U.S. Navy’s first carrier-based unmanned aircraft. The new 291,000 square-foot facility at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, scheduled to begin construction later this year, will help support nearly 300 good jobs for the Metro East region over the next three years.

“The world’s largest aerospace company is doubling down on Illinois because of our unparalleled assets in the transportation and logistics sector and the world-class talent of our people,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “To prepare our communities for the future, my administration is committed to making continued investments that will modernize our airports, spark new innovation and bring jobs and economic opportunities to our communities from Chicago to St. Clair and beyond. I want to thank the Boeing Company for their vote of confidence in Illinois, as well as St Clair County leadership and the MidAmerica Airport team for giving companies another reason to choose Illinois.” […]

The new production center will bring 300 jobs to the Metro East community – with initial plans to hire approximately 150 mechanics, engineers and support staff who will build the MQ-25TM StingrayTM. This project was made possible in part by an EDGE agreement from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), a tool used to support companies making large scale capital investments that lead to significant job creation. As part of its agreement with the State, Boeing has committed to an initial investment of at least $200 million over a 15-year period.

The innovative MQ-25 facility will include state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, including robotic automation and advanced assembly techniques, to improve product quality and employee ergonomics. Boeing digitally engineered the MQ-25 aircraft and its systems, resulting in high-fidelity models that drive quality and efficient production. The new facility is expected to be completed in early 2024, and aircraft production is projected to begin in the start of FY 2024.

“The team and state-of-the-art technology we’re bringing to the Navy’s MQ-25 program is unprecedented, and we’re incredibly proud to be expanding both as we build the future of autonomous systems in Illinois,” said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Autonomous Systems, Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “We’ve received great support from MidAmerica Airport and countless dedicated employees, and we’re excited to build the Navy’s first operational, carrier-based unmanned aircraft right here in the Metro East.”

The new MQ-25 facility will be in addition to existing manufacturing operations at Boeing St. Clair, which produces components for the CH-47 Chinook, F/A-18 Super Hornet, and other defense products.

Boeing’s investments in Mascoutah are the latest in a series to prepare MidAmerica St. Louis Airport for future growth. Fueled by $57 million in Rebuild Illinois capital funds, the airport will deliver the airport will deliver taxiway and airfield enhancements surrounding the new Boeing production facility and significant upgrades to the passenger terminal facility.

Just a suggestion: Use some of that Rebuild Illinois money to open up more pay lanes to exit MidAmerica airport. There are only two now, and the unstaffed automated machines don’t always work, creating gridlock.

* Wednesday…

Governor JB Pritzker joined the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM), Congresswoman Marie Newman, City of Chicago officials, and members of the community today in announcing a first of its kind aviation training facility opening in Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood. With support from the State of Illinois, the new AIM campus will expand access to industry standard aviation training programs, increase the talent pipeline for Illinois’ growing aviation industry, and unlock a long-term investment of 75 permanent jobs for the community.

At 137,000 square feet, the Chicago facility will be AIM’s largest training program in the nation, and its 14th campus overall. Working with longstanding industry partners and a range of educational partners in Chicago, the new campus plans to begin enrolling for classes set to begin on September 27th.

“Our long-term economic success as a state depends on our investment in the next generation of leaders, who will soon take on the task of steering our most important industries to meet the demands of the next decades,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “As governor, I’m committed to building on Illinois’s transportation leadership by working to educate and empower new talent and bring historically underrepresented populations into the field. Today, we have a new partner in that work: with the support of an EDGE agreement from the state, the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, or AIM, is set to open its largest aviation training facility in Chicago. I look forward to watching the AIM campus take the talent, diversity, and strength of our workforce to new heights.”

Construction on the training facility is now complete at 3711 S. Ashland Ave. AIM converted a former warehouse into a modern training facility with a large hangar, 17 classrooms, an avionics lab, and 31 administrative offices to support students. The Chicago campus will be 30% larger than AIM’s two current largest campuses, which will allow them to bring aviation maintenance training currently lacking in the area. AIM is a leading provider of training for students pursuing certification in aviation maintenance.

“AIM is thrilled to bring our proven industry training programs to Illinois as we work to prepare the next generation for exciting roles in the aviation industry,” said Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) Executive Vice President, Dr. Joel English. “Thanks to support from the State of Illinois, City Colleges of Chicago, and numerous industry partners, we will launch our latest program in the country, with an emphasis on delivering training programs to match the needs of local employers and to increase diversity in the workforce. We look forward to launching classes this fall, partnering with Olive-Harvey College and with colleges and universities statewide to bring students access to training that will allow them to compete for well-paying jobs in this fast-growing field.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

10 Comments
  1. - Blue Dog - Friday, Sep 17, 21 @ 1:32 pm:

    Where I get confused. In one breathe, progressives want to tax corporations more. In the next one, they want to give them tax breaks. Can someone explain.


  2. - walker - Friday, Sep 17, 21 @ 1:34 pm:

    Building around our strengths


  3. - Blue Dog - Friday, Sep 17, 21 @ 1:40 pm:

    If your keeping score.the aviation industry is responsible for 2.5% of annual worldwide co2 emissions.


  4. - Stix Hix - Friday, Sep 17, 21 @ 2:10 pm:

    From the MidAmerica website:

    MidAmerica St. Louis Airport parking services are maintained and managed by Reef Parking.

    I was there yesterday and only one exit was working. Wouldn’t it be up to the contractor, Reef Parking, to fix it and add additional exit gates?


  5. - Amalia - Friday, Sep 17, 21 @ 2:31 pm:

    great that there is more training for workers in the aviation industry. more of that please.


  6. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Sep 17, 21 @ 2:43 pm:

    These projects, Rivian rolls off it’s first trucks, bond upgrades, decent pension news, wonder what could have happened for 4 years if someone hadn’t spent every minute possible trashing this state…

    Very happy with all this and usually good news builds on good news.


  7. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Sep 17, 21 @ 2:52 pm:

    === Can someone explain?===
    Sure. “Progressives” aren’t monolithic.
    And neither are tax breaks.


  8. - Jibba - Friday, Sep 17, 21 @ 3:42 pm:

    Can someone explain.===

    Yes. Until there are federal restrictions, we are in a race to the bottom as corporations pit states against each other for tax breaks, and sometimes we have to suck it up and play. Don’t know any Dems who enjoy it, though.


  9. - Blue Dog - Friday, Sep 17, 21 @ 3:56 pm:

    Da and jibba. Doesn’t anyone have principles anymore?? Conservatives the same way. It’s only pork when someone else is on the receiving end.


  10. - Benjamin - Friday, Sep 17, 21 @ 4:07 pm:

    The tax breaks for corporate investment stink–and Illinois’ EDGE program is one of the best, given that the state can claw back money if the companies don’t live up to their investment and hiring commitments. But the best policy would be to curtail these on a federal level, as mentioned above.


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