The groundbreaking Friday for an Associated Painters hangar fulfilled a vision President Rod Friese said he has nurtured since he and wife, Dawn, purchased the Everett company 15 years ago.
In another 140 days, he said, 40 workers will be painting airplanes in the 41,000-square-foot facility at Spokane International Airport, which will become AP’s headquarters.
“This will be new work,” Friese said, not business taken away from the company’s Everett facility.
He said airlines have urged AP to locate a plant where planes could be taken out of service, painted and put back in the air with a minimal amount of down time. Also, the shorter the distance airlines must detour planes to get a new paint job, the better, he said.
Friese said Spokane International was among the few airports with room for a paint hangar that could be built close enough to a terminal to allow “gate-swapping,” whereby planes are rolled to the hangar at night, and newly painted planes are returned to the gates in their place the following morning.
The large number of airlines that use the airport was another plus, he said.
The $6 million facility’s value will be amplified by the proximity of Cascade Aerospace, which does airplane maintenance in a nearby hangar, he added.
Gov. Chris Gregoire noted a new Aerospace Technology Center will also be located nearby to help train the workers industry officials said they needed at a Spokane meeting two years ago.
“We’re literally building a new center of economic development,” she told groundbreaking guests, among them representatives of Boeing Co.
Gregoire said skilled workers are Washington’s greatest advantage as it supports Boeing’s bid for the next generation of tankers for the U.S. Air Force. Success would secure 11,000 jobs and $693 million in annual economic benefits to the state, she said.
Although Gregoire said she is frustrated by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ decision to extend the bidding deadline, possibly allowing a bid by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., she said competition will help put doubts about the process to rest.
A first round of bidding was tainted by scandal, the second by challenges to the way costs were computed.
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