When MidairUSA president Bill Moore said his company was going to set up its job fair Friday “to be something like an amusement park,” he was referring to tours they planned to offer of a Boeing 747 in the shop for refurbishing.
And while hundreds turned out for that experience and to tour the new MidairUSA facilities at Melbourne International Airport, the many job-seekers were on a serious mission.
“Oh, It would be a dream to get a job here,” said Diana Paine, who lamented abouther long commute from her Titusville home to a flooring-company job. “To be able to work in a high-tech business, even though my work really is low-tech.”
MidairUSA,which is moving its operation here to refurbish jets, is helping make dreams come true on a large scale for both the airport and the Space Coast. Officials see its opening as a sign of an economic comeback.
After seeing airlines leave Melbourne during the economic declineof 2008, the airport has been drawing an array of aviation companies that are turning it into a diverse aviation industry hub.
Referring to recent expansions by such companies as AAR, Embraer and Northrop Grumman, Melbourne International Airport’s Executive Director Richard Ennis said, “Now we’re known as the fastest growing hub for aviation in the country. And that will draw even more business.”
Paul Hanson, the chairman of the board for the Space Coast Economic Development Commission, notedthe benefits of the airport’s newest business tenants. “We are building an aviation segment that is marked not just by its growth, which has been steady, but also by the diversity of its international tenants,” he said.
After admitting Melbourne’s weather was an attraction, Moore credited Brevard’s workforce as more of a factor.
Moore said MidairUSA started looking to make this move five years ago “because we realized we were outgrowing the labor talent and infrastructure we had available” in Rome, N.Y., where the company was headquartered. Work on planes is continuing there.
But then the recession hit and financing was difficult to come by until recent months.
He gushed about the help his company received from officials from both the airport and city of Melbourne.
“They basically said, ‘Let’s get together and get this done,’ ” he said. “We’re not bankers, so they came up with solutions and worked with us in finding finance, getting permits done and everything else to help us get established here.
“And they do that for everybody.”
That’s in contrast,Moore said, to the experience he had at Orlando International Airport “where they said, ‘We have space for you – get in line,’ ” and another Florida airport “that made us promises they knew they couldn’t keep.”
It was left to Melbourne airport spokesperson Lori Booker to jokingly bring upthe weather.
“The average low temperature in Rome, N.Y., is 31 below and it averages 104 inches of snowfall,” she said. “This morning, Bill Moore went out and swept 104 inches of sunshine from his porch.” Moore said, “It’s great to be here, and it’s great to be wanted here.”