Work is steadily progressing at the site of the incoming GKN Aerospace manufacturing facility at VentureCrossings Enterprise Center.
"The foundation is in, and the walls are coming up," Sue Barnes of GKN Aerospace North America's leadership team said Wednesday. "Lots of activity is happening at the site."
Barnes gave an overview of the company and an update on the Bay County location at the Bay Economic Development Alliance investors meeting Wednesday.
GKN, a global company that employees 58,000 people in 30 countries, operates three divisions: aerospace, driveline and powder metallurgy. The aerospace division, under which the Bay County facility will operate, is an aircraft supplier for both military and commercial customers. The division builds aerostructure, engine systems and special products, including canopies for F-22 and F-35 jets.
In 2015, the company's aerospace sales were about $4.5 billion from 62 locations, of which 55 are manufacturing locations.
Barnes said GKN is bringing about $55 million of capital equipment to its 135,000-square-foot Bay County facility, which should open in 2018. Recruitment for 170 highly skilled employees will begin in the coming months.
Because of customer contractual requirements, Barnes was unable to talk about what products will be made, processes used or the customers the company aims to serve from the Bay County facility, but she did say there would be room for expansion.
"The location is really important to us, for us to be close to the airport and next to" defense manufacturing facility Harris Corp., Barnes said. "We have plenty of room to expand with GKN's plans of phase 2 and 3 and onwards."
Founded in 1759, GKN will celebrate 258 years in business this year, and Barnes said the company hopes to become an integral part of Bay County's business community.
"For us, it is about the long-term," she said. "It's about making sure we have the right manufacturing capabilities, the right talent pipeline coming into our business to make GKN a strong community partner."