North Dakota Leaders Celebrate General Aviation’s Significant Economic Impact at Jobs Rally
September 8, 2014
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  • Grand Forks, ND—U.S. Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp, U.S. Representative Kevin Cramer, and North Dakota Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley today joined the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and hundreds of manufacturing workers, local officials, business leaders, educators, and university students for a general aviation (GA) jobs rally on the campus of the University of North Dakota (UND). The event, GAMA’s twelfth jobs rally throughout the United States, celebrated general aviation’s positive contribution to the state’s economy.

    “The Grand Forks region is leading the country in aviation and unmanned aerial systems education and technology, providing real opportunities for high-paying careers in a dynamic field of work,” U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) said. “The University of North Dakota’s Odegaard School of Aerospace Sciences, Northland Community College, and world-class companies like Appareo Systems, Cirrus Aircraft, Piper Aircraft, and UTC Aerospace Systems in Jamestown make Grand Forks and North Dakota a hub for aeronautics education and technical entrepreneurship.”

    U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) said, “At the University of North Dakota and across my state, general aviation has been a burgeoning industry as North Dakota’s population and economy grow by the day. To keep up with that growth, we need strong investments in math, science, and engineering education, as well as aviation infrastructure and research – just as I’ve been pushing for – to help make sure North Dakota’s aviation manufacturers, pilots, and students get the support they need to enable our state to remain an aviation leader.”

    U.S. Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND) added, “North Dakota is quickly becoming a global destination for aviation, as evidenced by the impressive array of employers represented here today. As our economy continues to grow, so do the job opportunities for students, because general aviation is a critical component of industries ranging from energy to agriculture.”

    “Like many other business sectors in North Dakota, our aviation industry is expanding to meet the needs of our growing and prosperous state,” said North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley. “We remain fully committed to supporting our general aviation services, and we are equally committed to moving forward as national leaders in the development and assimilation of unmanned aerial systems.”

    “General aviation is more important to America’s economy than many people realize,” noted U.S. Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO). “It’s not just about flying planes; it’s about creating good-paying jobs and economic opportunity, not only in states like North Dakota and Missouri, but all across the country. General aviation is responsible for employing roughly 1.2 million people and contributes approximately $150 billion to the overall economy.”

    General aviation manufacturers and other North Dakota leaders also praised North Dakota’s importance to the industry.

    Piper Aircraft President and CEO Simon Caldecott said, “Piper is pleased to be a part of recognizing the value of general aviation jobs in North Dakota. The exceptional pilot training that occurs at UND’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences is critical to safe flight and the economic well-being not only of North Dakota, but the entire aviation community.”

    “North Dakota’s impact on general aviation is widely recognized across our nation and globe,” noted Tony Grindberg, Aviation Business Unit Manager at Appareo Systems. “Appareo is a proud member of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and today we celebrate and appreciate aviation’s past, present, and future here in North Dakota.”

    “Cirrus Aircraft, and its more than 800 employees in Grand Forks, ND, Duluth, MN, and around the world, is proud to be a global leader in general aviation today and every day as we work to develop and deliver world-class aviation products and services that uniquely impact the lives of our customers,” added Patrick Waddick, President and COO of Cirrus Aircraft.

    Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at UND, said, “We are delighted to have GAMA on campus to help us celebrate the aviation industry. UND has a special connection to this industry. We started 45 years ago with two planes and a dream, and now we have the largest non-military training fleet of aircraft and we are constantly exploring the leading edge of the aviation industry. We are proud of our national and international reputation of our aviation program, which focuses on making sure that we graduate students who have a strong, liberal arts background as well as earn their wings.”

    GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce concluded, “Ensuring we have strong general aviation leaders in the future has been one of GAMA’s goals for years, which is why we’re pleased to celebrate today’s jobs rally with so many bright, talented, and motivated young people. I am very confident these men and women will take an active role in the development of state-of-the-art products and technologies. Their aviation studies and future industry employment will bring even more skilled, good-paying jobs to North Dakota. We salute and thank the political, business, and education leaders in North Dakota for recognizing the importance of general aviation to their state and to the nation.”

    After the rally, UND hosted a Career Fair for students, and more than a dozen companies and organizations took part. They included: Appareo Systems, Cirrus Aircraft, Dakota Air Parts, Fargo Jet Center, GAMA, Honeywell, ND STEM Network, Northland Community & Technical College, Piper Aircraft, Textron Aviation, UND Aerospace, UND Army ROTC, UTC Aerospace Systems, and Valley Med Flight.