A Community Helps Aerospace Firm Satisfy Its Work Force Needs
The local community and the academic institutions in Rochester, New Hampshire, worked together to establish a unique facility to meet the training needs of an expanding aerospace composites firm.
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In operation today in Granite State Business Park in the suburban city of Rochester, New Hampshire, is a state of- the-art aerospace composites facility more than eight acres in size and utilizing not just the latest in manufacturing technology, but actually creating specific new technology to make composite engine components for the next-generation LEAP-X engine. The engine components, as well as this 343,000-squarefoot facility, are the result of a unique partnership between Albany Engineered Composites, a division of U.S. Albany International Corp., and Safran Engineered Composites, a division of the French firm Safran, a global leader in jet engines and aerospace components.
Satisfying the need for a large number of skilled and semi-skilled employees to be ready at the opening of the facility was one of the greatest challenges of the location process. New Hampshire offers firms matching training grants of up to $20,000 per application, but that was insufficient for the specialized training needed by the LEAP-X team.
The team met with Great Bay Community College (GBCC), the University of New Hampshire, and many others to work on a strategy that would effectively meet this employment demand. Great Bay Community College developed a plan for an Advanced Technology and Academic Center in Rochester with a composites lab and classroom space in which to provide training for the skills needed. The New Hampshire legislature funded a $4 million investment to establish this training center, and the community college also successfully applied for a U.S. Department of Labor grant in the amount of $19.9 million, which was awarded in the fall of 2011.
The Rochester satellite of Great Bay Community College and the Advanced Technology and Academic Center is complete and opened in May 2013. The grant will sustain the center for only a few years but the college and the community plan to have it self-sustaining and turning out 500 new employees skilled in composite materials manufacturing over the next five years.
“Those seeking training opportunities in advanced composites manufacturing now have a state-of-the art facility practically in their backyard,” said GBCC President Will Arvelo upon the opening of the facility.
Earlier this year, Peter Lengyel, president and CEO of Safran USA, told the news media that Rochester is “a great place for our company to be…What sealed the deal for us is the support from everyone at the local and state level.”