Private Planes Help Oxford Aviation Take Off

The purchase of new planes rose 12.9 percent last year, and Sanford will see the benefits with Oxford's expanded facilities.

The company already has booked three planes to be worked on in the new facility. Construction will begin this spring and is expected to open in December.

Clarke said the company received 800 applications for the first 15 jobs at the new facility. She said the work force is expected to grow to 60 by the end of the first year in Sanford and 200 by the end of the second year. About 65 workers are employed in Oxford and Fryeburg.

Oxford Aviation's presence in town could spur even more employment, said Evan McDougal, manager of Sanford Regional Airport.

He said it's likely suppliers and subcontractors will want to have space at the airport near Oxford Aviation, and the types of jobs fit in Sanford, which has been struggling with unemployment despite its location in York County, which has maintained a strong economy for much of the past decade. The jobs will be like the manufacturing employment that has been dissipating in Maine, he said.

''It will provide good-paying jobs for local folks,'' McDougal said. ''It's a skilled labor force, but it doesn't have to be college-educated.''

Horowitz said Oxford Aviation's location in Maine isn't a hindrance for domestic work and may be an advantage for working on planes from Europe, since Maine is closer to that continent than other cities on the East Coast.

For U.S. plane owners, ''a four- or five-hour flight is not a big deal,'' Horowitz said. ''People will select us because of our reputation, which is tied to the fact that we have the unique staffing and craftsmanship of Maine.''

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