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Sep. 10, 2012

Belgian Firm to Land 715 KSF Aerospace Plant in Stillwater

By Gabriel Circiog, Associate Editor

Oklahoma continues to attract aviation industry giants as Belgium-based Asco Industries is set to bring 600 jobs to Stillwater over the next three years, the Tulsa Business Journal reports.

 Asco will move into the 715,000-square-foot MerCruiser building, previously occupied by Mercury Marine. Located on a 79.5 acre-site at 3003 N. Perkins Road, the property was bought from the Stillwater Industrial Foundation, which is operated by the Chamber of Commerce, according to property transaction records.  Asco plans to invest $100 million in two phases, including the purchase of the plant. The announcement was made during the Farnborough International Air Show in the United Kingdom.

Asco chose Stillwater site due to its convenient location and highly trained workforce. Oklahoma State University’s reputation as a center for aerospace research and training played a crucial role in Asco’s decision. Recently the university launched the first program in the United States for graduate study of unmanned aircraft.  Asco also cited the Meridian Technology Center as an important asset. Asco will start the hiring process in September and aims to reach full production by spring 2014.

The news couldn’t come at a better time for Stillwater, which recently lost around 440 manufacturing jobs. In December, boating engine manufacturer Mercury Marine closed down and relocated 200 jobs to Wisconsin. Quad/Graphics Inc. shuttered its facility on West Airport Rd. facility, a move that cost 240 jobs, but that loss was partly offset when Total Energy added 200 positions.

Oklahoma is continuing to reap the benefits of the arrival of Boeing, which in June opened a facility in Oklahoma City that will add at least 1,000 jobs to its current 1,000 workers in the state. The aerospace giant named Stillwater-based Frontier Electronics Systems as its 2011 Avionics Supplier of the Year, and Lufthansa Technik Component Services plans to add up to 90 employees at Tulsa International Airport.

Currently around 143,000 people employed by some 600 companies work in Oklahoma’s aviation industry, according to the state aeronautics commission. Aviation is the state’s largest export, generating an estimated $12.5 billion annually.

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