The Mobile City Council unanimously approved a project agreement with Airbus Americas for its new facility on Tuesday, after weeks of discussion.
“It sends a message into the aviation world that Mobile is supportive of Airbus, and we’re appreciative of what they do,” Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “And we’re open for business for those that come in support of Airbus. It’s been a game changer for the city of Mobile.”
The agreement passed with two amendments. In an effort to ensure that as many of Airbus’ employees as possible are residents of Mobile County, the council added a provision for Airbus to incentivize its employees to reside in Mobile County. Those incentives are still in the works, Britton Bonner, an attorney working on the agreement, said, as Airbus collaborates with the Mobile Chamber on that program.
In addition, the council amended the agreement to include a provision to include an annual reporting requirement for Airbus. Every year, Airbus will have to report its compliance with the “Mobile First” initiative, which encourages the company to prioritize hiring locally and using local contractors. In addition, the company will have to report how many of its employees are using the new incentive program.
Airbus has agreed to make a “good-faith effort” to prioritize Mobile County residents for new jobs. $2.5 million of the city’s $10 million cash incentive to Airbus is to be used to recruit and train Mobile County residents for jobs on the site.
Still, one councilmember remained concerned that the agreement didn’t go far enough to ensure that city of Mobile residents, not just Mobile County residents, were prioritized for the jobs that will be created by the new facility.
“We need to find a way, when we do these deals, to find a stronger anchor, or hook, for people to live within our boundaries,” Councilmember William Carroll said Tuesday during the council’s pre-conference meeting.
But other councilmembers and Stimpson argued that the city did not want to get the reputation of being difficult to work with, and that, since the majority of Mobile County residents live in the city or spend money in the city, the city would still feel the impact.
The Mobile County Commission is expected to authorize a similar agreement with Airbus for $10 million next month. The commission was set to consider it last week but pushed the vote amid concerns from County Commissioner Randall Dueitt that not enough was being done to ensure that Airbus employees lived in Mobile County. $2.5 million of the county’s $10 million is also going to training and hiring Mobile County residents.
According to Bonner, 60% of Airbus employees are Mobile County residents, 30% are Baldwin County residents, and 10% reside in the surrounding counties.
When the facility is completed, Airbus will have invested over $2 billion in Mobile since it first arrived in 2012, Bonner said. An additional 1,000 jobs will be created with the new facility, bringing the total number of Airbus employees on site to around 2,400.
©2023 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit al.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.