by Max Brantley
Sens. Lincoln and Pryor and Gov. Beebe joined Dassault Falcon and Hawker Beechcraft officials at a media event this morning to praise the impact of general aviation-related jobs (10,000) in Arkansas. It seems to have been primarily a pep rally during tough times.
LITTLE ROCK, AR, August 12, 2009 – Today Senator Mark Pryor, Senator Blanche Lincoln, and Governor Mike Beebe spoke at The General Aviation Jobs for Arkansas Forum. The forum was organized by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), in partnership with Dassault Falcon and Hawker Beechcraft Corporation.
Pete Bunce, president and CEO of GAMA, stated, “General aviation has a tremendous impact on the state of Arkansas. We are appreciative that Senators Pryor and Lincoln, Governor Beebe, and numerous state and local leaders also recognize its importance. Working together, aviation will continue as Arkansas’s number one export.”
The forum was held in a hangar at the Dassault Falcon facility at Little Rock National Airport. The crowd included about 100 community leaders and more than 500 Dassault Falcon and Hawker Beechcraft employees.
Below are highlights from the remarks of each of the speakers at the forum:
Senator Mark Pryor
“General aviation is a critical component of Arkansas’ economy, and I want to help this industry continue to flourish in our state. It’s an honor to view the first-rate work product built by thousands of Arkansans and to meet these innovators in person.”
Senator Blanche Lincoln
“Dassault Falcon and Hawker Beechcraft are terrific corporate citizens and significant parts of our Arkansas family. Dassault and Hawker provide high quality, high paying jobs in our state, and the work their employees perform is so important to the long-term success of the Arkansas economy. I am pleased to meet with Dassault and Hawker employees and officials at The General Aviation Jobs for Arkansas Forum to discuss how we can get our state and nation back on track.”
Governor Mike Beebe
“Aerospace is Arkansas’s number-one export and a key component of our economy. We are proud of the more than 10,000 Arkansans who work in aviation and give this sector a strong presence here, and we look forward to recruiting even more companies to further expand that presence.”
Jeff Habib, senior vice president of sales for the U.S. and Canada, Dassault Falcon
"Dassault Falcon is a proud partner in the growth and development of the Little Rock community. Our two thousand plus employees here have earned a world class reputation for their superb craftsmanship. But just as important, they have worked within this great community to make it a better place to live. Dassault Falcon is extremely grateful to the leadership in Little Rock and the Great State of Arkansas for providing what might just be the optimum environment for cultural, economic and business vitality. Sure, business aviation is facing a tough market right now, but in the long term, the quality of work by Arkansans will help us persevere."
Shawn Vick, executive vice president, Hawker Beechcraft Corporation
“Our facility in Little Rock dates back more than 45 years and is central to the reputation and success of our business. The area’s highly skilled work force and our high quality, diverse positions have proved a successful combination for the local and state economy. We have invested in our local facilities and in the community and look forward to a successful future.”