British Aerospace Manufacturer Eyes Fort Worth for New Technology Center

Oct. 20, 2022

A British aerospace manufacturer that serves more than 90% of the world’s aircraft and engine manufacturers is eying Fort Worth as a potential location for a 100,000-square-foot global technology center.

GKN Aerospace’s plan was presented to Fort Worth City Council earlier this week. The company, which has its North American headquarters in Westlake, develops, builds and supplies advanced aerospace systems, with 38 manufacturing sites in 12 countries and over 15,000 employees globally.

Michael Hennig, the city’s economic development manager, said GKN has “zeroed in on” Fort Worth as its preferred site for the hub of company research and development in North America.

The company is also looking at sites in Arlington, McKinney, Missouri and Oak Ridge, Tenn. The proposed Fort Worth site is north of the Naval Air Station, near Loop 820.

”We’re very hopeful and all of us around the table are committed to helping get GKN here in Fort Worth,” Mayor Mattie Parker said at the work session to discuss the project.

What really makes Fort Worth competitive is its research and development credit program, which was created in response to the city’s 2019 strategic plan aimed at attracting more high-tech jobs, Hennig said.

To entice GKN, Fort Worth would provide up to $7 million in grants to the company based on its research and development costs. GKN estimates it’ll put $40.5 million into R&D over a five-year period.

The grants can be applied to the company’s property taxes, provided it produces an estimated $91.6 million in new property tax increment.

GKN would create 100 new jobs in Fort Worth by its fifth year in operation, paying a minimum average salary of $125,000 a year, Hennig said.

If Fort Worth is chosen, GKN expects to open the center by the end of 2024 with a minimum of $4 million in R&D costs in order to qualify for the tax credit.

GKN said through a spokesperson that it’s “grateful” to the city for considering the R&D credit incentive. “The city and region have a lot to offer, and we look forward to continuing discussions,” its statement said.

The incentives come up for a vote at the Oct. 25 council meeting.

Besides having its North American headquarters in Westlake, GKN has considerable ties to aerospace companies in North Texas.

The company is a supplier to the massive military program that produces F-35 fighter jets at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth assembly plant. GKN signed a 10-year deal with Honeywell in 2021 to supply landing gear and brakes for F-35s produced for European allies.

It also supplies launch tubes for the patriot missile program overseen by Lockheed Martin’s missiles and fire controls division in Grand Prairie.

In July, ATI Inc., formerly Allegheny Technologies, announced a multi-year agreement to supply the majority share of titanium plate and sheet products to GKN. ATI moved its headquarters from Pittsburgh to Dallas this summer to focus on the aerospace and defense industries.

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