From left, Chris Buckner and Mike Lloyd work on a Cessna Chancellor at Tri-City Aviation in Blountville. Photo by David Grace.
BLOUNTVILLE — An initiative to help aviation jobs take off in Northeast Tennessee appears to be in its early stages, but its academic, property and marketing components are all moving forward.
“We’ve seen a migration like we saw with the auto industry where auto manufacturers kind of migrated to the South,” Tri-Cities Regional Airport Executive Director Patrick Wilson explained of the push to create more aviation jobs in the region. “We’re now starting to see a similar migration with aviation and aerospace. ... We have a favorable labor market and hopefully the trend will continue. ... Boeing moved to South Carolina, and Airbus is going to Mobile (Alabama).”
Tennessee state Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, is a point man working with the initiative’s stakeholders.
“The piece that has been missing was a refinement in the education process,” Shipley, a 23-year Air Force veteran, said. “The people in the (aviation) industry were saying ‘Our young people are not graduating with refinement in trades and crafts.’ As a consequence, a lot of the employment was happening outside the area.”
These kinds of jobs typically pay more than $52,000 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.For an expanded version of this article, please see Sunday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.