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A Resource at Your Fingertips

Aerospace group hopes to boost industry with online directory.

Alabama Aerospace Industries Association hopes to use its new website to encourage membership and help its members connect with potential business partners.

Alabama Aerospace Industries Association hopes to use its new website to encourage membership and help its members connect with potential business partners.

The Alabama Aerospace Industries Association hopes to see membership growth take off as a result of its plans for an online directory of all association members. But, says Executive Director Jeff Thompson, that growth would be just a nice side benefit to the directory’s main purpose of being a repository for member firm capabilities.

The Alabama Aerospace Industry Directory will be a one-stop shop for member and non-member firms to find each other—and find out about each other, Thompson says. It will function to pull together the various parts and pieces of Alabama’s growing collection of aerospace manufacturers, suppliers and support firms. “It pulls together in one convenient location those aerospace industrial capabilities we have here in the state.”

Started 10 years ago as the brainchild of Bernie Schroer, who was then University of Alabama in Huntsville associate vice president for research, the association seeks to extend military, space and commercial opportunities for its members. Thompson says membership, now at just over 100 members, has seen the effects of economic ups and downs.

“Companies join and they drop out. But in recent years, we’ve seen a slight increase. Now the association is committed to growing the membership, and we’re preparing for what we hope will be solid growth in the industry in the next few years,” Thompson says.

Thompson says each AAIA member will get a directory entry that will include information about the firm, its officers, a description of the business, and what it can offer in terms of overall capabilities. Each entry will include the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) code for the firm, an important piece of information for companies looking for partners on proposals.

“It’s important that these firms be able to find each other,” he says.

Non-member firms will be included, he says, but their listings will include only basic information, which he hopes will amount to subtle pressure for those companies to join AAIA.

Thompson has been busy compiling and verifying information from aerospace companies gleaned from several different databases. The process is pretty straightforward, Thompson says. He develops a member profile, and then sends it to the member firm to verify the information.

“That’s where we have to start. They might like what we’ve included, or they might come back to us and say everything has changed but the name of the company.”

Members will be able to access the directory at the association website, alabamaaerospace.org, when it’s completed later this fall.

Mike Kelley is a freelance writer for Business Alabama. He lives in Huntsville.

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