MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama's top story for 2012 is proof that good news can spring from bad.
A little more than a year after state and coastal-area officials were left disappointed that Air Force tankers would not be built in Mobile, a project that would have been a major economic boost, European aircraft manufacturer Airbus announced in July it would build commercial aircraft in Mobile.
The company is locating a $600 million facility at the Brookley Field complex near downtown Mobile. Ironically, the plant will be at the site of the former Air Force facility which left hundreds of area residents out of work when it was phased out in the 1960s. The Airbus plant is expected to create 1,000 permanent jobs.
Mobile Mayor Sam Jones said state and local officials had been working eight years to snag the Airbus plant.
"We were very persistent and it finally came together," Jones said.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said the Airbus announcement that it would locate in the state was "truly significant."
"It helps elevate the state's profile among other major high-quality, high-skilled industries," Bentley said. "Landing a business such as Airbus is also a psychological lift for the state. The hardworking people of Alabama are inspired with confidence knowing that Alabama is indeed a major player in the aerospace industry."
Bentley said the announcement gave Alabama worldwide attention.
Troy Wayman, vice president for economic development for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, said the importance of Airbus coming to Mobile can't be underestimated.
"It's a huge deal for Mobile, but also for the entire state and the entire Gulf Coast," Wayman said.
He said he sees Airbus being a new start for Mobile and hopes the area will lure suppliers and other companies because of the European airliner manufacturer.
Jones said he and Bentley recently traveled to Hamburg, Germany and met with suppliers about the possibility of coming to Alabama.
"Eighteen people gave me their cards," the mayor said.
Construction of the assembly line for Airbus is scheduled to begin in summer 2013. Aircraft assembly is expected to start in 2015, with the first deliveries of planes expected in 2016. The facility is expected to produce 40 or 50 aircraft a year by 2018.
Other stories making The Associated Press list of the top 10 stories in Alabama for 2012 are:
2) Roy Moore is elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in November, nine years after he was removed from the same office for refusing to obey a federal judge's order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building. Meanwhile, Republican Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh defeated incumbent Public Service Commission President Lucy Baxley, a former lieutenant governor and state treasurer, as the GOP completed a sweep of all statewide offices in Alabama.
3) Three people, including two former Auburn football players, are killed and three people injured at a pool party at an apartment complex near the university's campus on June 9.
4) VictoryLand casino owner Milton McGregor and other defendants are acquitted in March in one of the state's most high-profile corruption cases.
5) A stepmother and grandmother are charged in Etowah County in the death of a 9-year-old girl who authorities say was forced to run as punishment.
6) Gabe Watson is acquitted in February by a Jefferson County judge during his trial in Birmingham in the scuba diving death of his wife during their honeymoon in Australia.
7) University of Alabama in Huntsville biology professor Amy Bishop pleads guilty in September to charges she fatally shot three people and wounded three others during a faculty meeting. She is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but avoids a death sentence.
8) University of Alabama President Guy Bailey resigns two months after taking over as the school's president in September. At Alabama State University, new President Joseph Silver is suspended in November after trying to fire two administrators and questioning some contracts at the school.
9) A freshman student, Gil Collar of Wetumpka, is shot and killed in October at the University of South Alabama in Mobile by a campus police officer. His family has filed a lawsuit.
10) Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman reports to a federal prison in Louisiana in September to finish serving his sentence for his conviction in a government corruption case. Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, convicted with Siegelman in 2006, completed his sentence this year and has been released.
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