Becoming Aerodynamic: Acadiana's Aviation Industry

Airplane at terminal

Economic Development and Aerospace Jobs in Louisiana

Nationally, aviation is one of the most powerful industries in the United States. According to Deloitte’s U.S. Aerospace & Defense Labor Market Study, job growth is expected to increase by 10 percent or more in many sectors, and many of those jobs are paying nearly double the national salary average. In Louisiana specifically, growth in aviation is expected to top 25 percent. Nearly 400 aviation and aviation-related companies – many of them globally recognized – have operations in the Bayou State. For 86 of those, Acadiana is home, due in large part to the region’s assets and economic benefits. Some of the most notable include:

  • • PHI, Inc. – With facilities in 43 countries across the globe, PHI has been headquartered in Lafayette for 35 years. Specializing in providing skilled air transportation, medical, and technical services to offshore companies in international waters, PHI claims more helicopter flight hours than any other private entity worldwide.
  • • AvEx. – Known as the world’s leader in aviation exterior painting, Aviation Exteriors Louisiana began painting passenger and cargo planes over 25 years ago in New Iberia, but  the company has expanded operations to include military, regional, and corporate markets. With direct access to Acadiana Regional Airport’s 8,000-foot runway, AvEx serves the jet fleets of industry giants like Boeing, FedEx, and Southwest Airlines.
  • • Bristow Group Americas Region – Bristow has provided global transportation, search and rescue, and aircraft support services for more than 50 years. Its operational divisions encompass Africa, the Americas, Asia Pacific, and "Europe Caspian." From its regional headquarters and maintenance facility stationed in New Iberia, Bristow provides industrial air services to international as well as independent oil and gas companies for offshore operations.

Training for Aerospace Jobs in Acadiana

These companies are all actively recruiting skilled individuals, from helicopter technicians and materials specialists to licensed aircraft and software engineers. To meet that demand, the Acadiana Aviation Task Force – a joint public-private One Acadiana initiative – is working with South Louisiana Community College (SLCC) to expand its current aviation curriculum, programs, and internships to include additional certifications as well as pilot training. The goal is to establish a workforce pipeline incorporating secondary and post-secondary education that will both train a homegrown workforce and attract more major high-tech employers.

In the past, educational partnerships with schools, colleges, and universities have proved to be valuable business incentives attractive to – and successful for – major employers like specialty chemical manufacturer Bercen, Inc., information technology giant CGI, and energy technology leader Halliburton, for example. Talent pipelines lead to economic development, and those financial measures of progress give back to the community by strengthening that pipeline.

Acadiana Outreach and Business Incentives

While Forbes highlighted Louisiana as “America’s frontier for business opportunity,” Southern Business & Development magazine recognized Louisiana for attracting the most significant capital investment and job-creation projects per million residents among Southern states, citing the Lafayette Regional Airport among the best aerospace locations in Louisiana.

Meanwhile, One Acadiana's focus is on building national and international awareness of all the area offers. Targeted recruitment and investment have been key, as has participation in events and organizations like the:

Piloting an initiative to meet that demand will be the Acadiana Aviation Task Force (AAT), a collaboration between South Louisiana Community College (SLCC), One Acadiana (1A), Acadiana Regional Airport, Iberia Economic Development Authority (IEDA), Lafayette Economic Development Authority (LEDA), and private industry. This group continues to encourage economic development like the $90 million project to build a new passenger terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport and the $5 million renovation at Acadiana Regional Airport’s passenger terminal.

Flying Forward

Niche companies have found success right alongside international Goliaths in Acadiana’s Hub City. Manufacturing payroll incentives are but one of Louisiana’s valuable business incentives. For companies ready to grow, Acadiana offers:

  • • The lowest tax burden in the United States for new capital and labor-intensive manufacturing operations.
  • • The lowest industrial natural gas rates in the South.
  • • The second-lowest industrial electricity rates in the South.
  • • Access to national and international markets.
  • • A cost of living and quality of life rarely found together.

If you're looking for the perfect place to start or expand your business, contact One Acadiana, and discover the full spectrum of economic benefits our area has to offer.



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