ROCKFORD – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that global aircraft service leader AAR Corporation is opening a new maintenance and repair hangar in Rockford that will create up to 500 new jobs over five years. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward.
“Illinois and Rockford are making a making a comeback and companies like AAR are keeping it going strong,” Governor Quinn said. "While we have more work to do, partners like AAR are major contributors to Illinois' economy and supporting local communities around the state. I thank AAR for their commitment to growing and expanding in Illinois where our hardworking men and women are second to none."
AAR chose Rockford for several reasons, including its central location, cost effectiveness, specially trained workforce, regional supply chain, and warehouse and distribution network. The Rockford region is a prominent hub of aerospace activity and aviation manufacturing in the country, boasting more than 200 industry specific companies.
“With this new facility in Rockford, AAR is excited to expand our commitment to Illinois, which is already home to our world headquarters in Wood Dale, near O’Hare Airport,” AAR Chairman and CEO David Storch said. “AAR is the largest operator of maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities in the United States, and we are proud to add our seventh facility close to our home base and focused on maintaining the next generation of aircraft.”
The 200,000 square-foot maintenance, repair and overhaul facility is expected to operate 24 hours a day. The facility will expand the airport’s current infrastructure to allow for scheduled and unscheduled service, modification, overhaul and all other support services for military and commercial Boeing aircraft. The hangar will be located in the mid-field area of the airport and is slated to open in spring 2016. Construction is expected to begin within a year.
The project was made possible by a $15 million state investment to build the new maintenance facility that will service next-generation aircraft. The capital investment is through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). DCEO also will provide the company with a $600,000 investment toward training costs for its new employees.
“We are grateful for AAR’s commitment to Rockford,” DCEO Director Adam Pollet said. “This is a public and private partnership that will produce hundreds of quality jobs and emphasize Rockford’s central role in aviation.”
“This is a monumental economic and workforce development opportunity for the airport and the Rockford region,” Airport Executive Director Mike Dunn said. “We look forward to welcoming AAR Corporation and are thankful for the collaboration and dedication of all of the partners to make this a reality.”
Rockford is home to a critical mass of tier-one aerospace suppliers including Boeing, Woodward, UTC Aerospace Systems and GE Aviation. The region’s rate of manufacturing employment is twice the national average, with more than 80 percent of Illinois’ aerospace workforce located in the Rockford area.
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of last week’s news that Illinois’ unemployment rate declined in July to 6.8 percent from June’s 7.1 percent. During July, 11,200 new private sector jobs like the ones announced today in Rockford were added, including 3,900 manufacturing jobs.
The state’s unemployment rate has fallen steadily since July 2013, when it stood at 9.2 percent, and has completed its steepest 12-month decline of 2.4 percentage points since August 1984. Since February 2010, Illinois has added 263,100 private sector jobs.
Rockford joins AAR’s six other locations in Duluth, Minn.; Oklahoma City, Ok.; Miami, Fl.; Lake Charles, La.; Indianapolis, In. and Hot Springs, Ark. The Rockford airport was chosen following the consideration of several locations in other states.
The agreement is a result of more than two and a half years of discussions and follows a series of aerospace investments in the region including the current construction of a second campus for Woodward and the recent groundbreaking of the 40,000 square-foot Rock Valley College (RVC) Aviation Maintenance Technology Program facility. Graduates of the Program are prepared to join the ranks of the more than 6,500 workers currently employed in aerospace companies like AAR, assuming positions as airline or general aviation engine and/or airframe mechanics.
AAR is a global aerospace and defense contractor that employs more than 6,000 people in 17 countries. Based in Wood Dale, Ill., AAR supports commercial, government and defense customers through two operating segments: Aviation Services and Technology Products. AAR’s services include inventory management and parts distribution; aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul; and expeditionary airlift. AAR’s products include cargo systems and containers; mobility systems and shelters; advanced aerostructures; and command and control systems. More information can be found at www.aarcorp.com.