New Hampshire aerospace consortium hopes to fly high

Aerospace and Defense Consortium got its public launch at the 11th annual Manufacturing & High Technology Summit


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A relatively new consortium that aims to unite the estimated 300 New Hampshire companies in the aerospace and defense sectors is getting off the ground and hoping to help those businesses boost their chances of breaking into overseas markets.

The New Hampshire Aerospace and Defense Consortium, or NHADEC, had its public launch on Thursday at the 11th annual Governor's Advanced Manufacturing & High Technology Summit, held at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester. About 230 people attended the conference, which among other topics focused on what can be done to shed the stigma of manufacturing being seen as dirty, low-paying work.

Helping New Hampshire businesses that operate in the aerospace and defense sectors to collaborate and share resources and knowledge is the goal of the consortium, which was initially funded by a federal State Trade and Export Promotion grant.

While the state International Trade Resource Center took the reins of getting it off the ground, the goal is for the consortium – which already has 70 members – to operate as an independent nonprofit.

“The state’s role in this is as a facilitator,” said Tina Kasim, international program manager at the ITRC, who participated as a panelist in the workshop, along with Chris Pegge, vice president of business development at RSCC Aerospace in Manchester, and Harry Johnson, sales manager at Profile Metal Forming in Newmarket. (At age 25, he is the consortium’s youngest member.)

While other states have similar consortiums, New Hampshire’s is different because it is export-based, said Chris Way, interim director of the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, who moderated the session.

The consortium is “a group of companies with the shared goal of taking technologies we have available and taking them abroad,” said Pegge of RSCC Aerospace, a Berkshire Hathaway company that manufactures aerospace wire and cable.

For a company that wants to begin exporting, he said, it’s helpful to talk with others that have experience dealing with International Traffic in Arms Regulations – and that have a network of contacts in different countries.

Aerospace and defense are two of the fastest-growing sectors in the state, said Kasim, and together they contribute nearly 4 percent to the state’s gross domestic product – a higher percentage than 44 other states. In fact, she said, the average wage for jobs in the aerospace and defense industries in New Hampshire is the fifth-highest in the country, generating an annual payroll of $653 million.

“We have companies making products that aren’t available anywhere else in the world,” said Kasim.

Teaming up

Kasim said the consortium has already identified a few international markets that may be of interest to New Hampshire companies: India, which since 2011 has been the world leader in arms importation; Brazil, which has the second-largest aviation fleet in the world (and is gearing up for some major infrastructure upgrades, as it will soon host the World Cup and the Olympics); Turkey, which has the sixth-largest army in the world and the second-largest in NATO; and Canada, which has the fifth-largest aerospace market in the world and is home to Bombardier Aerospace, one of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers.

In June, the New Hampshire consortium teamed up with the other New England states to purchase and split booth space at the International Paris Air Show, where they got to meet face to face with existing clients and gather new leads. Five member companies from New Hampshire attended at a cost of about $1,800, which – had they bought their own booth space – could have been closer to $40,000, said Kasim.

Such collaboration with New England is hoped to continue, as groups around the region are working with Aero Montreal to form an aerospace corridor in New England. And having the consortium is “important for us to show how organized we are and how committed we are to the industry,” said Kasim.

As for the logistics of consortium membership, member companies are expected to attend half the monthly meetings, said Johnson, and they are working out a fee-based structure that will probably work out to between $300 and $400 annually for participants.

For more information about the consortium, visit nhadec.com.


 

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