‘Euratlantic’ alliance here promoting U.S. investment

NBAA Convention News » 2006
November 6, 2006, 9:59 AM

Representatives from Euratlantic, an alliance of 13 European regions, are at Booth No. 3276 hoping to attract U.S. investors. The confederation, which spans a geographic region from France’s Normandy coast down to Andalusia in the south of Spain, claims to have special expertise in mechanical engineering and materials for aerospace applications.

“This is our first time exhibiting in an aerospace show,” project manager Audrey Gauthier told NBAA Convention News.

In addition to attending shows, Gauthier’s team releases press kits and organizes networking events. For example, one took place at the Franco-American Chamber of Commerce in Chicago recently. Among the attendees were directors of other chambers of commerce, as well as politicians, CEOs and lawyers. “We give potential investors directions on how best they can use their money. We then forward their information to our partner regions, depending on the prospect’s needs,” Gauthier said. Results are measured by the number of contacts generated.

According to Euratlantic promoters, the area’s skills in mechanical engineering relate to sheet-metal manufacturing, fusion welding, surface treatment, precision machining and injection for composites.

The area includes about 300 companies in the aerospace sector. Among the well-known business aviation players are maintenance specialist Ogma in Portugal (the firm services Embraer business jets), aerostructure manufacturer Gamesa in Spain (it has a stake in the Embraer Legacy 600) and composite structural assembly manufacturer Daher in France (it is a supplier on Dassault Falcons). In the research field, 326 university R&D teams work in aerospace. In addition, there are 250,000 students (not all in aerospace) in the Euratlantic confederation. The group also touts cooperation among industry, research and higher education.

In an interesting exercise aimed at attracting investment, Euratlantic worked out a cost simulation comparing four cities. It started with an investment plan for a 540,000-sq-ft facility with 50 graduate engineers. Two cities–Nantes, France, and Seville, Spain–are located inside the Euratlantic area, while the two others–Bristol, UK, and Hamburg, Germany–are not. The computation factored in salaries, rents, taxes and incentives. The estimated grant support was based on a $6.2 million capital investment.

According to the simulation, Seville featured the lower annual cost, at $2.3 million. This is certainly not due to lower salaries, as Seville-based residents are surprisingly well paid, placing second behind their Hamburg counterparts. However, money flows from the European, national and local levels so that their grants eventually make Seville the lowest cost option. In the Aeronautical and Technological Park of Andalusia, which offers special incentives, six million sq ft of space is available.

Euratlantic was created last year under the umbrella of a European Commission-funded project, dubbed Interreg 3B. “The goal is to promote coast territories in the European Union,” Gauthier explained. In addition to aerospace, Euratlantic covers the automotive and agrifood industries. A western France economic development agency, Ouest Atlantique, was named project leader.

The Euratlantic area covers several French and Spanish regions, as well as most of Portugal. It thus hosts six Airbus production sites. However, Midi-Pyrénées and Aquitaine, the two French regions that host most of Airbus and all of Dassault Falcon final assembly lines, are not part of the group’s territory.

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