Legislature Allocates 500,000 To Foster Aerospace Effort

November 1, 2007
| By Pete Daly |
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ADA — The new state budget approved by the Michigan Legislature this week includes $500,000 to help former auto parts manufacturers in Michigan qualify for and win contracts from the aerospace industry.

Craig Wolff, vice president of the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association formed a few months ago with offices in Ada, said the aerospace industry "cannot build enough components for all the planes people are ordering all over the world. It's the exact opposite problem of the automotive" industry in Michigan.

In late October, aircraft manufacturer Boeing announced that the first deliveries of its new 787 Dreamliner will be delayed, due in part to a shortage of parts from suppliers.

The appropriation by the Michigan Legislature provides $250,000 to MAMA to organize and promote aerospace manufacturing in Michigan, plus another $250,000 to help former auto parts manufacturers achieve the AS9100 Certification, which has been adopted as the quality standard for the aerospace industry.

According to Wolff, legislators who worked to add the $500,000 to the budget were Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Grand Rapids, and representatives Michael Sak, D-Grand Rapids, and Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland. Wolff said the $250,000 allocated to MAMA is a "one-time grant."

Wolff said achieving AS9100 Certification "is not an easy thing" for any company. It involves training of employees at an estimated cost of $12,000 to $15,000, and takes from six to nine months. He said "probably less than a couple dozen" Michigan companies have AS9100 Certification already.

He said a Grand Rapids-area company is about to be awarded an aerospace contract but he said the contract stipulations prevent him from identifying the company or the amount of the contract.

A number of companies from across the state already are members of MAMA, according to Wolff, but membership is limited because not every manufacturing company in Michigan can qualify.

He said some manufacturers that formerly relied on the auto industry "want to diversify on their terms, and that's not the way the world works. That's why there is a limited number of members (of MAMA). There is a considerable vetting process, and not everyone, frankly, is ideal for what we are doing." 

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