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Out-of-town company to bring new jobs because of PIA

June 16, 2012|By ARNOLD S. PLATOU | arnoldp@herald-mail.com

An out-of-town company has decided to open a facility at Hagerstown Regional Airport, bringing new jobs and a new dimension to the type of work done here now, a Washington County official said.

“This will be a very exciting announcement for the community and for the airport,” said Greg Larsen, business development manager at the airport north of Hagerstown.

The company, which he declined to name because the county government is going to issue an announcement “quite soon,” is coming here partly because of the aviation maintenance technology training that the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics now is offering here, Larsen said.

The company “stated several times during the prospectiving period, one of the things they found attractive about this area is the Pittsburgh institute, their Hagerstown campus,” Larsen said.

He called the company’s decision a “very recent development.” He said he has been working on efforts to bring the company here for two years.

He declined to say what the company does, except that it is “not exclusively” a defense contractor, “but they are involved in that kind of work.”

The nature of the company’s business represents “a new aviation sector coming to the airport, basically in the field of MRO — maintenance, repair and overhaul,” Larsen said.

He said the business will “be calling on the graduates of PIA.”

County economic development officials, as well as leaders of local defense contractors, recruited PIA to open the local campus as a way to train the highly-skilled aviation workers they need as well as to provide training for such jobs to area residents.

PIA opened here in April 2011 and now has a total of 38 students. Its program is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Both Larsen and Hal Lucas, the outgoing chairman of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, declined to say how many jobs the company will create here.

“It’ll certainly be a positive influence even if it’s just two jobs,” Lucas said.

Lucas, president of Global Reconnaissance Technologies near the airport, said PIA’s new Hagerstown campus as well as improvements at the airport are major keys to attracting more such companies.

“The PIA piece has been part of it, the longer runway, the hangar facilities that have been built” are important in economic development and the county’s future, too, Lucas said.

“People say, ‘What are taxpayers going to get out of that?’” Lucas said. “It’s a tremendous amount of taxes you get out of it. That investment into the airport is paying into it, many times over.”

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