Bee Development Authority Executive Director Joe B. Montez was happy to report to his board Monday evening that Sikorsky Support Services has approximately 130 people working at its Chase Field Industrial Airport Complex operation.
But beyond that there was little information to report.
“Those jobs are very competitive,” Montez said. Companies around the country are looking for aircraft mechanics, electricians, sheet metal workers and their helpers, he said.
Montez said the company has told him it plans to have as many as 70 more people working in the two hangars, shop and warehouse facilities it leases from the BDA by the end of the year.
Montez said he was told “we’re going to be at 200 employees by the end of the year if we can,” by a Sikorsky official not long ago.
However, the official would not elaborate on what kind of jobs it would be filling at the facility.
Sikorsky took delivery of an Egyptian government helicopter last month in a large, fixed wing cargo plane. The company has said it intends to continue using the main runway at the former naval air station for more such deliveries.
Also, one local businessman has received permission to land and take off at Chase and to store his plane at what is now a vacant hangar near the BDA offices.
Part of a recent visit by Montez to Washington, D.C., was dedicated to seeking assistance from federal agencies for upgrades to the runway and parking apron facilities at Chase Field. The BDA is especially interested in getting the runway lighted for night landings and takeoffs.
A recent report from the Texas Engineering Extension Service of Texas A&M University recommended that the BDA get Chase Field’s industrial airport facilities included in the National Program of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS), making the facility eligible for federal grants and other forms of assistance in maintaining its runway structures.
Runway improvements are vital for attracting other aviation-related businesses to the area, Montez has pointed out previously.
Founder Darryl Brown of the complex’s newest tenant, Vortex Global Innovations, said the main reason he chose to locate at Chase Field was the runway and airport facilities.
He is hoping to be able to use the runway to load his modular buildings on cargo planes for delivery to locations in other countries.
Although Brown is just starting his company, he hopes to be hiring people for jobs ranging from engineers to assembly-line workers in the next few months. A number of BDA board members have expressed excitement over the potential of Brown’s company, saying they expect the business to be a thriving success.
Brown told the Bee-Picayune recently that he cannot elaborate on the product he is developing at Chase Field until he has completed a prototype and started seeking contacts from potential customers. However, BDA board members who have seen his presentation believe the budding business will blossom and create a significant number of job new job opportunities at Chase Field.