By Brice Wallace
A company that specializes in technologies for aerospace thermal control systems is expanding in St. George, planning to add 73 high-paying jobs over seven years and moving its operations to the city’s burgeoning Tech Ridge development.
Airborne Environmental Control Systems (AECS) announced the $20 million project after being approved for a tax credit of more than $1.4 million by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED).
“A perfect project for St. George, Utah, in their tech zone,” is how Mel Lavitt, chairman of the board’s incentives committee, described the expansion during the meeting where the incentive was approved. “And it’s an example of keeping and expanding high-paying companies in Utah.”
Airborne develops technologies focused on thermal management for commercial and military aerospace platforms, giving customers full digital control over all environmental aspects, including pressure, volume and temperature. The company fabricates ECS using composites and 3D printed materials, all designed in-house. Legacy environmental control systems can no longer effectively relieve the heat loads of today’s devices, which operate at higher temperatures than ever before., the company says.
Brian McCann, AECS’s CEO, said that among the aircraft to use the company’s technologies are F-15, F-16, F-18 and C-130 planes and certain helicopters. The tech will be used both on new aircraft and in retrofits.
“It’s a great opportunity to expand on the aerospace industry that exists in the southern part of Utah,” Thomas Wadsworth, GOED assistant managing director, said of the project. “It fits in really nicely with what St. George is trying to do with their economy as well.
“From a staff perspective, we’re really exciting about the high-paying nature of these jobs that will be coming into St. George. It’s something I know the community has been focusing on for a number of years, and so we’re grateful for the partnership we have both with the Economic Development Corporation of Utah and the St. George Area Economic Development Corp. to help us identify this project first and foremost and move it along.”
In May 2019, RAM Manufacturing Co. of St. George became majority owner of AECS. RAM designs and manufactures actuation and fluid control components in the aerospace industry. Wadsworth said AECS will be moving out of RAM’s St. George facilities to Tech Ridge.
RAM has been in St. George “for 43 years and they’ve grown exactly as we’d hoped they would do. They’ve grown and provided increased wage levels to the Washington County area for 43 years,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike told the GOED board.
“I’m just really excited for the opportunity of this to just greatly further our vision and our goals on Tech Ridge. We know we’re not going to attract, in some cases, the largest tech companies or aerospace companies to St. George. What we’re hoping is that companies like Airborne ECS and Brian McCann and his team, they will start and they will flourish and they will grow and help us with all of our goals and helping to provide that ecosystem on Tech Ridge that we’re looking for.”
Carine Clark, the GOED board’s chair, said the project involves “an exciting company and such a great place.” She told McCann that “St. George is lucky to have you and so are we.”
The 73 projected new jobs are expected to pay an average of about $94,000. Over seven years, the project will generate new total wages of $23.2 million and new state tax revenue of about $9.56 million.
“We’re happy that Airborne has decided to expand its St. George location,” Val Hale, GOED’s executive director, said in a prepared statement. “This expansion will create high-paying jobs for engineers and technicians with salaries much higher than the area’s average wage.”
“Just as RAM Co. has experienced, we believe that Airborne will find the quality of the region’s workforce, distribution infrastructure and quality of life to be top-notch,” said Theresa A. Foxley, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. “Congratulations to the city of St. George and St. George Area Economic Development on the area’s continued aerospace growth.”