SAVANNAH—Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. announced Monday that it will expand its Savannah facilities through a $500-million, seven-year plan to ensure that the company is well-positioned to meet future demand for business-jet aircraft and support services. The growth is expected to result in 1,000 additional Gulfstream jobs, an increase of more than 15 percent from Gulfstream’s current Savannah employment level of approximately 5,500 employees.
“With our own sales trends and market forecasts suggesting an upturn over the next decade, we want to ensure Gulfstream is well-positioned to meet the demand in terms of products and services,” said Joe Lombardo, Gulfstream president. “We are already beginning to see signs of a modest recovery. In the third quarter of 2010, we booked more orders than we had in any quarter since the downturn began in mid-2008.
Furthermore, as flying hours have increased, Gulfstream service centers have enjoyed a significant increase in service volume.
“This expansion is necessary to meet the projected increase for new business-jet aircraft and the maintenance that will follow,” Lombardo said.
In the presence of state and local dignitaries, including Gov. Sonny Perdue, Gulfstream’s Savannah employees learned that the expansion would include building new facilities at the northwest quadrant of the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, renovating several existing facilities on the main campus off Gulfstream Road and expanding office and lab facilities at the Gulfstream Research Development Center in Crossroads Business Park.
“Gulfstream is the world standard in business aviation, and we’re proud that the company the world looks to for the best business jets is based right here in Georgia,” Gov. Perdue said. “The expansion of Gulfstream’s facilities will have a major impact on both the state and local economies by creating 1,000 new full-time jobs, not to mention the ripple effects in terms of construction and service workers, as well.”
The new positions are expected to include production specialists, engineers, and support technicians.
“The effect this initiative will have is very simple,” Lombardo said. “It’s jobs for ‘G-A.’ That means good, high-tech jobs for Georgia. Jobs for Gulfstream Aerospace. And jobs for general aviation, a vital aspect of this nation’s industrial base.”
First opened in 1967, Gulfstream’s Savannah headquarters includes initial-phase manufacturing of five aircraft models: the Gulfstream G650, G550, G500, G450 and G350. The site also includes the largest of the company’s five final-phase manufacturing facilities and the largest of Gulfstream’s 10 service centers.
Gulfstream announced a $300 million expansion of its Savannah facility in March 2006 and later increased it to $400 million. That expansion was completed in 2009 and included the development of the largest general aviation aircraft maintenance facility in the world; the Nicholas D. Chabraja Manufacturing Facility for the assembly of the ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range Gulfstream G650; a state-of-the-art, three-bay final phase paint facility; and a 300,000-square-foot Research and Development Center. In addition, Gulfstream met its commitment to hire 1,100 new employees as part of that expansion.
“While Gulfstream’s international presence has grown, we are committed to Georgia and Savannah,” Lombardo said. “And we certainly appreciate the efforts of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Savannah Economic Development Authority, Chatham County, the city of Savannah and the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in supporting this expansion.”
Gulfstream will utilize the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) program to
implement sustainable design and construction elements into its projects. In choosing contractors and subcontractors for the expansion,
Gulfstream will continue its existing policy of providing opportunities to regional small, minority-owned, disadvantaged, veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran businesses.
Georgia ranks eighth among U.S. states for aviation industry employment, with over 80,000 employees in more than 500 operations. The state’s total aviation exports worldwide topped $3.4 billion in 2009, ranking the state as the eighth-highest U.S. state in this sector. Georgia is also the most productive aerospace state in the U.S.: costs for infrastructure like land, utilities and wages are low but yield highly valuable aerospace products. For each aerospace worker employed in the state, an average of $135,437 in wealth is created.
Aerospace was identified by the Commission for a New Georgia in 2003 as an industry sector whose resources and existing strengths makes it a sector to target for strategic growth in the state.
“A company like Gulfstream would be welcomed anywhere in the world, so we are proud they have chosen to expand right here in Georgia,” Perdue said. “Gulfstream’s plan for growth will have a significant, statewide impact on Georgia’s economy.”
Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, designs, develops, manufactures, markets, services and supports the world’s most technologically advanced business-jet aircraft. Gulfstream has produced some 1,900 aircraft for customers around the world since 1958.