Texas has long been a key player in the aerospace, aviation, and defense industry, and the state is solidifying its success as time goes on.
In fact, the Lone Star State claimed the No. 2 spot on PricewaterhouseCooper’s (PwC) 2018 Aerospace Manufacturing Attractiveness Rankings — a significant jump from last year’s No. 8 spot.
The study considered factors across categories of cost, labor, infrastructure, industry, economy, and tax policy.
According to the PwC report, about 9 percent of all aerospace manufacturing jobs are in Texas — and that number is increasing.
While 17 of the 20 largest aerospace manufacturers in the world have major operations in Texas, the state’s largest concentration can be found in North Texas, where companies including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Bell Helicopter, Raytheon, Triumph Aerostructures-Vought Aircraft, and more maintain operations.
Additionally, Southwest and American airlines maintain headquarters in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex, and 14 aerospace companies perform defense contracts in Texas.
Aeromax Moves to North Texas
Aeromax Industries Inc., a leading manufacturer of parts and assemblies for military aircraft, is one of the newest industry arrivals in North Texas.
The company announced plans in May 2019 to relocate its headquarters from Canoga Park, Calif., to an industrial park in the Fort Worth area.
“After looking at a few other locations, Fort Worth made perfect sense for us,” said Tom Brizes, chairman and president of Aeromax. “It’s an aerospace-friendly community with many local companies that we’ve been doing business with for years. With no state income tax and reasonable fuel and property prices, we look forward to moving and growing our operation here.”
Time and again, Texas has proven itself a business-friendly state thanks to innovative educational and training programs, a competitive tax environment, and logistical assets. But its specialized workforce is particularly appealing to growing aerospace companies.
Just ask Fort Worth’s Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Optimizes Operations
Since announcing plans to ramp up production of the F-35 Lightning II fighter, the company has held several job fairs over the past couple of years. And their call for potential employees has been repeatedly met by a seemingly unending stream of eager applicants.
At a 2017 job fair, Lockheed said it would hire on the spot for 1,800 new positions. The company received such an overwhelming response that it had to shut down pre-registration after 2,600 people signed up within 24 hours. Since that time, Lockheed has held several additional job fairs to help support its Fort Worth operations.
Part of what makes North Texas such a lucrative location for aerospace, aviation, and defense companies is its pool of talent. Because North Texas has such a robust manufacturing base to begin with, the depth of talent in the area offers impressive possibilities to expanding companies.
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics examined by the Dallas Business Journal, North Texas’ Dallas-Fort Worth metro and Houston each added 8,800 manufacturing jobs in 2017. The two metros tied for most manufacturing jobs added in the country that year.
Industry insiders have said the growth was driven by the continued recovery of the manufacturing sector, strong consumer and export demand, and the successful passage of individual and corporate federal tax reform.
Additionally, Texas’ reputation as a business-friendly state has helped propel the state toward continued economic prosperity.
Add to that an ongoing influx of new residents, and it’s not hard to see why DFW’s labor pool is critical to the region’s aerospace and aviation-related success.
Consider that the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington MSA topped the nation for numeric population growth, with a gain of 131,767 in 2018, or 1.8 percent, according to Census Bureau data unveiled in April 2019. And while sheer numbers of people are good, trained and skilled people are even better.
To that end, the Lone Star State prides itself on offering multitudes of training options for Texans across the state — especially for technical skills.
North Texas is brimming with educational institutions that offer aerospace and aviation-oriented instruction thanks to colleges such as Tarrant County College, North Central Texas College, Dallas County Community College District, the University of North Texas, Texas State Technical College, and many more.
Programs abound offering instruction in such skills as composite bonding, aircraft assembly, welding, machining, avionics technology, industrial mechanics, airframe maintenance and electronics technology, and much more.
Preparing Today for Tomorrow
Even as young as high school, students across Texas can explore career paths in aerospace, aviation, and other high-tech positions.
In the rapidly growing North Texas community of Midlothian, located just 26 miles south of Dallas-Fort Worth, Midlothian Independent School District (MISD) is boosting its career and technical education programs with rigorous technical programs in areas including aerospace engineering, cybersecurity, information technology, automotive, and welding, to name a few.
Students can further tap into Texas State Technical College campuses in nearby Red Oak or Waco which offer a wealth of opportunities to earn certificates, degrees, and skills necessary for aerospace, aviation, and other specialized positions.
Additionally, companies can also collaborate with these educational institutions to upgrade employees’ skills with customized training using Texas’ acclaimed Skills Development Fund. These technical skills translate directly to the workplace, providing Texas employers with the skills their operations require for long-term success.
With a robust workforce, infinite options for training, comprehensive infrastructure, and a pro-business environment, Texas — and North Texas, in particular — are poised to help elevate its aerospace and aviation firms to even greater heights.