Mayor Sandy Stimpson will be one of an 18-member delegation from Mobile County to make the trip to the Farnborough International Airshow in London tomorrow.

Elected officials joining the mayor on the trip will be City Council President Gina Gregory, councilors Fred Richardson and C.J. Small, as well as County Commission President Connie Hudson and Commissioner Jerry Carl.

Stimpson told a group of reporters Thursday morning he was excited about his first trip to the airshow, characterizing it as a way to meet with future Airbus suppliers before the first Airbus A320 leaves the assembly line.

“We will be looking to improve our already established relationships with suppliers,” Stimpson said. “Time is becoming more important. Suppliers will be making decisions soon and every meeting will be more important.”

Recruitment of suppliers there will be competitive though, as roughly 90 officials from Alabama, including Gov. Robert Bentley, will be in attendance, joining delegations from neighboring states as well. The competitive nature of the trip wasn’t lost on Stimpson.

“Each one of us wants it in our state, but we also want it in our city,” Stimpson said. “We have an edge because Airbus is already here.”

The city’s sales pitch at the airshow, Stimpson said, will be its proximity to the Airbus final assembly line, workforce, local government, quality of life, port facilities and transportation.
“There are a lot of things we can sell them on,” Stimpson said.

The mayor also lauded the face-to-face interaction with the businesses and suppliers the trip will provide.

“The magnitude of the decision to locate a facility is huge,” Stimpson said. “They want to look people in the eye that they will be depending on.”

Not only is face-to-face interactions important, but the team aspect of discussions could also help Mobile land more jobs, Stimpson said, adding he wouldn’t pass judgment on City Council members who are traveling with him. It will be City Councilman Fred Richardson’s 84th trip on behalf of the city.

“You never know when one person might be able to make a connection,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we should have everybody go, but I don’t want to pass judgment on what the right number is. It’s the councilors decisions to use funds available to them.”

The airshow schedule will keep city officials busy, Stimpson said, except for some time Friday morning after the plane lands. The mayor will have meetings in 30-minute blocks all day, city spokesman George Talbot said. The mayor will return the evening of July 16.