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Leaders from New Hampshire and Quebec attempting to build more bonds in aerospace industry

Union Leader Correspondent

May 12. 2014 5:59PM
From left, Seacoast Mayors Karen Weston of Dover, Robert Lister of Portsmouth, T.J. Jean of Rochester and Dana Hilliard of Somersworth, Pease Development Authority Chairman Art Nickless and Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeffrey Rose hope to entice aerospace and defense manufacturers around Montreal to expand in the state. (John Quinn Photo)

PORTSMOUTH — While they may be rooting for different hockey teams this week, leaders from both sides of the border hope to build on the business relationship between New Hampshire and Quebec.

On Monday morning at Pease International Tradeport, leaders from across the state signed a letter to invite and encourage aerospace and defense manufacturers in greater Montreal — where 98 percent of Quebec’s aerospace activity is concentrated — to expand their presence in the state.

The letter, in French, was signed by Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeffrey Rose; Mayors Karen Weston of Dover, Robert Lister of Portsmouth, T.J. Jean of Rochester and Dana Hilliard of Somersworth; and Pease Development Authority Chairman Art Nickless.

Rose said the “unique partnership” between the mayors and officials at Pease promotes the Seacoast as a regional hub for the aerospace industry and “a centerpiece for the state’s economy.”

“We like to think we’re ready for takeoff,” Rose said.

Gov. Maggie Hassan, who sees hockey as a shared connection between the regions, said businesses across the border should take advantage of New Hampshire’s benefits, including education, its tax-friendly policies and being a leader in exports.

“We have a lot to offer,” Hassan said, adding officials in government and business will continue to work on the growing “Seacoast aerospace initiative.”

Hassan commended Albany and Safran, which opened a 300,000 square-foot plant in March, for having the foresight to expand in Rochester.

By 2020, the two companies will increase the local workforce by about 400 employees to keep up with the demand to make 30,000 aircraft engine blades annually.

“It’s a good day for business in New Hampshire,” Hassan said.

Joe Marone, CEO of Albany International, said the Rochester facility – which produces aircraft engine fan blades made of a composite of woven carbon fibers, resin and titanium and casings – will help reduce weight and will be used in about 45 percent of new aircraft built beginning in 2016.

Marone said the endeavor would not be possible without the support of local and state leaders.

“What this state doesn’t have in scale, it makes up in the highly personalized attention of its leadership,” Marone said, adding officials brought all available resources to help.

Thierry Weissenburger, consul and senior trade commissioner at the Consulate General of Canada in Boston, Mass., said the two nations already enjoy a historical connection and the latest relationship will benefit both regions.

“We hope to see much more to come,” Weissenburger said.

“The vision is to create an aerospace corridor,” Weissenburger said, adding businesses in Montreal and across the Seacoast could share suppliers, research and technology.

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