February 25, 2010

Schumer, Gillibrand, Arcuri, Offer Whole-Hearted Support In Keeping Empire Aero Center Open; 200 Jobs At Risk

Rome-Based Empire Aero Center Could Close In Mid-May if Something Is Not Done - Officials Offer Support to Help Facility Find a Buyer, Obtain Military Contracts, etc.

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Michael E. Arcuri announced that they have written a personal letter to Israel Aerospace Industries Chairman, Yair Shamir, offering him assistance in the quest to keep the Empire Aero Center open and its 200 workers employed.  The officials said that their support could be used in everything from helping Israel Aerospace Industries navigate the military contracts process to offering available federal assistance to potential buyers of Empire Aero Center.  They said that they would leave no stone unturned in their quest to keep Empire Aero Center open and operating.  Recently, Israel Aerospace Industries announced its plans to divest of its ownership of Empire Aero and to lay off its entire workforce within months. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Congressman Arcuri pushed for Israel Aerospace Industries to find a solution that will keep Empire Aero operational and its workers in steady employment and offering their help in that process.

“In this economic climate we need to fight to retain every good job we have – at Empire Aero and elsewhere,” Schumer said. “I will work with local leaders, the owners and my colleagues to help in any way we can to keep this facility open and the jobs here in Rome. These workers are talented, productive and dedicated to this facility and they deserve our full support.”

“Jobs are my number one priority,” Senator Gillibrand said. “If we’re going to rebuild our economy and put New Yorkers back to work, we have to start by keeping the businesses we have right here where they belong. I am committed to working with Senator Schumer and Congressman Arcuri, and the leaders of Empire Aero to make sure they’re getting all the federal resources they need to keep this business and these jobs right here in the Mohawk Valley.”

“My primary focus is on jobs, and Empire Aero and the 200 local employees have my full support,” Arcuri said.  “Working with other federal, state and local officials, we will continue to assist and advocate for the employees of Empire Aero in any way possible.”

“Empire Aero Center is a valued employer in our County and we need to use any available resources to ensure that they are able to continue operating and that 200 plus employees can continue working and Empire can see future growth,” said Oneida County Executive, Anthony Picente.   “I would like to thank the two Senators and the Congressman for attempting to work with Israel Aerospace Industries to examine options other than the closure of Empire Aero Center.”

Empire Aero, a Rome New York company, is a subsidiary of  IAI North America, which is based in Israel. Empire Aero began operations in Florida almost two decades ago and came to Oneida County in 1993 after a base closure in Florida left the company without land.  At the time, federal, state and local governments worked tirelessly to create the conditions for the company to grow. After relocating, Aero became actively involved in the local community and even partnered with a local community college to train students to perform aircraft maintenance.

Unfortunately, Empire Aero Center is one of countless businesses damaged by the recession, after years of booming business and a steady flow of contracts. Its aircraft maintenance operation, which services a range of commercial aircrafts at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, once had plans to expand its workforce to over 700, but the economic downturn threw those plans into serious question as the entire airline industry struggled.  Israel Aerospace Industries divestiture announcement followed a series of layoffs and furloughs, and, if no buyer is found, will mean the loss of over 200 jobs and a harmful ripple effect for the rest of Oneida County and the region.

To keep Empire Aero running and its workers employed, Schumer, Gillibrand, and Arcuri have written a letter to Israel Aerospace Chairman Yair Shamir offering to help in any way they can to keep the facility open.

They wrote, “We are committed to collaborating with Israel Aerospace Industries to protect the workers of Empire Aero Center and would like to work with your company to strategize effective ways to keep jobs in Rome, NY.”

The full text of the letter is attached below:

February 19, 2010

Yair Shamir, Chairman
Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.
Ben-Gurion International Airport
70100 Tel Aviv, Israel

Mr. Shamir:

We are disappointed to read about the plans by Israel Aerospace Industries to divest of its ownership of Empire Aero Center, which as you know is located at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, NY.  Last week’s announcement that Empire Aero Center may lay off all of the remaining 200 employees by May of this year and that Israel Aerospace Industries is looking to find a buyer for Empire Aero Center is shocking and devastating not only for those workers and their families, but for the entire community.  Empire Aero has been a major employer sustaining workers in Rome, NY.  It is also an essential part of the local economy.  A significant workforce reduction would have a ripple effect on other businesses and be devastating for Empire Aero Center’s employees.

We are aware of your interest in securing military maintenance opportunities with the United States at Empire Aero Center. We are also willing to work with you to identify other strategic partners who may have an interest in Empire Aero Center if Israel Aerospace Industries is committed to divest of its ownership in part or total.

Our offices fully understand the stress and economic turmoil that exists in certain industry sectors including the aviation and aircraft maintenance sectors. We will work with you to find ways to preserve New York jobs and help identify solutions that can help maintain Empire Aero Center’s continued participation in New York State’s economy.

We are committed to collaborating with Israel Aerospace Industries to protect the workers of Empire Aero Center and would like to work with your company to strategize effective ways to keep jobs in Rome, NY.  Please contact us as soon as possible to discuss this matter.