London trip: Is it worth it?

Federal, state and local leaders will attend the Farnborough International Airshow, which begins on July 14, 2014.  While some of the local players have changed since the last show two years ago, their goal remains the same.

While there’s a lot of pomp and circumstance surrounding the trip to London, including dinners at historic locations around London, there’s a lot of work mixed in, as well.  London is just the base.  The real focus of the trip is the Farnborough International Airshow about 40 miles southwest of London.

Hundreds of aviation companies attend the air show as well as many of Mobile’s competitors, not only from the U.S. but around the world. That’s why it’s important to be here.

In 2012, I spoke with Beth Kirkland from Florida Great Northwest, who was representing the Florida panhandle at Farnborough.  She told me, “You have to have a presence so that you can represent the companies in your region.  We’re a regional economic development effort.”

Bob, Connie, TuckerMobile County Commissioners Connie Hudson, Merceria Ludgood, Mike Dean and Baldwin County Commissioner Tucker Dorsey were at the airshow 2 years ago right after Airbus announced plans to come to Mobile.  Dorsey is making the return trip now to make sure suppliers follow. He said, “It’s our job to sell our area and try to recruit them to come here”.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson is also making the trip.  He agreed that, “The suppliers will have to be making their decisions pretty soon about, are they going to relocate and are they going to locate in Mobile.”

FabriceFor executives like Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier, the bottom line is important, but so are the personal relationship that are developed over time, and that’s why so many company executives and elected leaders make the trip to Farnborough.

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