March 26, 2013
Jacksonville Business Journal
Even before the ribbon was cut at the newly christened Embraer aircraft assembly plant in Jacksonville, work to fulfill its $427 million Air Force contract had already begun.
The company, tasked with building 20 Super Tucano light air support aircraft to support the draw down of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, has started interviewing employees for management positions and expects to be fully operational within seven months, said Embraer executives Gary Spulak and Luiz Carlos Aguiar. The planes will be delivered beginning in 2014.
“We are honored to have been selected by the U.S. Air Force for the light air support program and we have started our work already,” Embraer SA President and CEO Frederico Curado said. “This was not an easy victory and we sincerely thank all of those who have faithfully supported us.”
The advocacy to get the Brazilian-based Embraer established Jacksonville began almost 10 years ago. Support came from the business community, the city government, the governor’s office and the city’s Congressional delegation.
“In short we did it. We put in the hard work,” Mayor Alvin Brown said. “Everyone had a role... and today we’re seeing our hard work pay off.”
The Embraer contract is about more than aircraft, Brown said.
“The military and veterans community represent nearly 25 percent of our city population, ... who can truly appreciate the work of the Air Force light air support program,” Brown said. “Jacksonville is the right place for this work.”
Embraer’s new facility will create 50 new high-skilled jobs locally and 1,400 across the country, Curado said, including direct hires through Embraer and its general, contractor Sierra Nevada Corp. of Sparks Nev., as well a network of U.S. parts suppliers.