By Chris Day
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater joined the aerospace industry in July when ASCO Industries purchased the former MerCruiser plant and announced it would build jetliner parts.
The Belgium-based company eventually will employ approximately 600 people when the facility is fully functional. ASCO Aerospace USA will start renovating the MerCruiser plant on North Perkins Road next year and is expected to launch manufacturing operations by mid-2014. Production is expected to expand between 2014 and 2018 as the company obtains additional contracts.
ASCO Industries designs and makes high-strength aircraft components and assemblies for Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer commercial jets.
The July 9 announcement turned Stillwater’s economy around.
The community was reeling from the loss of the MerCruiser plant and the closure of the Quad/Graphics printing facility in 2011.
Approximately 200 MerCruiser employees watched on Dec. 2, 2011, as the final engine shipped from the Stillwater plant. Quad/Graphics closed its Stillwater operations in May as Stillwater lost another 240 jobs.
Later in July, Stillwater received another economic boost when Total Energy, a maker of storage tanks, towers and custom pressure vessels, announced it would turn the former Quad/Graphics facility, 100 W. Airport Road, into its primary fabrication facility.
It will employ more than 200 people.
From bad to great
Landing the aerospace company changed the community’s fortunes.
Stillwater Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Lisa Navrkal said ASCO’s decision was a “huge win” in the economic development world for Stillwater and the state.
“The loss of those two companies was a loss to Stillwater. However, in the case of ASCO, the former MerCruiser site became a benefit to our community as ASCO sought a location for a manufacturing plant,” Navrkal said.
“The availability of this site assured an expedited transition and with the federal incentives of the New Market Tax Credits, the state incentives for Quality Jobs and Aerospace Engineering Credit, the workforce training from Meridian, and the research and development partnerships with OSU, it more than completed the package for ASCO.”
Building the economy
ASCO will have an indirect benefit to the economy as well.
The company encourages its suppliers to locate nearby. Those suppliers should will bring additional jobs to Stillwater and Payne County.
ASCO representatives have placed a portion of their building on North Perkins Road for lease, Navrkal said.
“The hopes would be for potential suppliers to locate here as ASCO develops,” she said.
“Additional businesses relocating to Stillwater to supply ASCO’s processes would have a positive impact on our community.”
It’s always difficult selecting the top stories of the year, but 2012 seemed especially challenging.
Stillwater and Payne County experienced tragedy when a Stillwater junior high student killed himself at the school and wildfires destroyed homes between Stillwater and Glencoe.
County residents experienced successes like Oklahoma State University’s enrollment record and passage of a fire department tax and Sunday alcoholic beverage sales.
But, the ASCO Industries decision to come to Stillwater is the NewsPress’ top story of the year because of its immediate and potential impact on Stillwater and Payne County.