U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos D-Illinois, Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christensen (R) and Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I), have reached an agreement with the largest nationwide and third-largest global maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider, AAR, to build a new hangar facility on Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) grounds.
The facility is expected to employ up to 500 people and expands RFD’s current service offerings and infrastructure.
“This is a monumental economic and workforce development opportunity for RFD and the Rockford region,” said Mike Dunn, RFD executive eirector. “We look forward to welcoming AAR and are thankful for the collaboration and tireless dedication of Gov. Quinn, Sen. Durbin and all of the partners to make this a reality.”
The 200,000 square-foot MRO facility is expected to operate 24 hours a day and will service next-generation, wide-body aircraft. This will allow for scheduled and unscheduled service, modification and overhaul and all other support services for military and commercial aircraft.
“I’m proud to have played a role in the negotiations that took place over the course of the past two years between AAR, a first-class Illinois employer, and GRAA (Greater Rockford Airport Authority), an airport authority determined to take full advantage of its own untapped potential,” Durbin said. “With this exciting agreement and the new pipeline of aviation mechanics from Rock Valley College, the local landscape has changed. Rockford has solidified its role as an aerospace giant and businesses across the nation should take notice.
“Today’s announcement of a new state-of-the-art facility that will soon employ 500 people in good paying jobs is only the beginning. The future is bright at RFD.”
Final agreements between the partners are currently being developed and construction is expected to begin within the year. The hangar will be located in the mid-field area of the airport and is slated to open in spring 2016.
Rockford joins AAR’s six other MRO locations: Duluth, Minnesota; Oklahoma City; Miami; Lake Charles, Louisiana; and Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Rockford was ultimately selected because of the the region’s centralized location, cost-effectiveness, availability of specialized technical talent and RFD development amenability.
The region’s noted supply chain, which supports all aspects of the aerospace cluster including
manufacturing, assembly, maintenance, repair and overhaul services, warehousing and distribution, was also a strong factor.