MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WALA) - Legislators believe a bill under consideration this session could help Alabama compete with surrounding states in recruiting aviation industry suppliers.
With Airbus set to break ground on a production plant in Mobile, getting aviation industry suppliers to locate in the state is a priority as well.
"Those suppliers are expected to begin locating near Mobile to provide supply-chain support for the new Airbus plant," Governor Robert Bentley's office said.
Bentley called for support of the Alabama Commercial Aviation Business Improvement Act of 2013.
"This bill will have a significant economic impact on Alabama," Bentley said. "We already expect Airbus to provide 1,000 jobs for Alabamians, and Airbus suppliers will bring thousands more. We want those jobs in Alabama, not in a neighboring state."
The bill would shield commercial aircraft manufacturers from lawsuits by out-of-state and foreign plaintiffs who seek to file suit in Alabama because the manufacturer's plant is located in state. Alabama citizens would still be able to file suit.
The bill holds manufacturers liable for events bringing cases no more than 10 years after delivery of the aircraft. If an incident occurs at the 10-year deadline, the plaintiff still has two years to bring the action.
Bentley said the suppliers could decide to locate in Florida or Mississippi because those states already have similar bills in place.
"We have worked hard to create a positive business climate here in Alabama, and this legislation is needed to help us build on our progress and attract even more jobs," he said.
Senator Cam Ward, who is co-sponsoring the bill with Sen. Vivian Figures and Rep. Bill Poole, said potential jobs are on the line and lawmakers should move quickly to make sure Alabama's "legal climate is competitive with neighboring states."
"It is critical that we lay the proper foundation to attract additional suppliers for Airbus and realize the thousands of multiplier jobs that will come," Senator Figures said. "It is our time for a great economic boom, and we must do everything we can to make it a reality."
Poole compared the recruitment of Airbus to that of Mercedes-Benz, saying the aircraft manufacturer is poised to aid in economic development in the aerospace industry like Mercedes did in the 1990s.
Representative Poole said. "We need this legislation to help attract the Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers that will bring additional jobs for Alabama citizens."
The Alabama Department of Commerce estimates 3,700 Alabamians could be employed by Airbus suppliers locating in the state. In addition the plant itself is expected to employ 1,000 people, and 3,000 jobs are expected to be created during its construction.
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