The show, which alternates between Paris and Farnborough, gets under way today. With major aircraft makers and airlines in attendance, the show has been viewed as a good place for gaining new business.
No official from the state is going to Farnborough, said Bill King, who coordinates the trip annually for the state commerce department. However, Washington will sponsor an exhibit at the air show. Six aerospace companies that call Washington home — including Global Aerosystems of Everett and Seacast of Marysville — will attend, and a representative for the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance will be at the show.
King pointed to the recession and the state's budget crunch as the reasons Washington won't be represented at Farnborough. He noted that, even in good years, Farnborough tends to draw fewer participants than the Paris Air Show.
In years past, Washington and Snohomish County officials have used the annual air show to market the region's vibrant aerospace cluster. Just last year, King set up roughly 80 meetings for 11 companies from Washington at the Paris show. During a boom in aviation in 2007, Snohomish County's executive attended the show in Paris as did representatives from the county Economic Development Council and Edmonds Community College. Gov. Chris Gregoire was on hand in Paris in 2005.
Deborah Knutson, president of the Economic Development Council of Snohomish County, also won't be in attendance in Farnborough this week, though she wishes the state and county could find the means to keep up its aerospace marketing campaign even in the downturn.
“That's our industry,” she said. “We need to do what we need to do to keep it here.”
Linda Lanham, executive director of the Aerospace Futures Alliance, wasn't too disappointed by the lack of representation at Farnborough. Her group has been focusing on boosting aerospace training in the state.
In a tough economy, “we have to set priorities,” she said.
Retaining and promoting aerospace in the Puget Sound region have garnered much attention among industry groups and lawmakers after the state's largest aerospace company, the Boeing Co., announced plans last fall to establish a second 787 final assembly line not in Everett but in South Carolina.
In a Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance survey of local aerospace companies conducted this year, 58 percent of the respondents considered marketing the benefits of the region's aerospace cluster as a high priority.
Southern states including Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi have emerged as tough competition for aerospace companies and jobs.
Last year, several southern states sponsored a reception in Paris in hopes of wooing large companies there.
On Friday, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley told the Associated Press that he'll be at Farnborough, where he hopes to sign a deal that will bring about 300 aerospace jobs to the Huntsville area.
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