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Aerospace, Aviation, Security & Defense

Your business will take off in our region.

The Greater San Marcos’ region Aerospace target is comprised of subsectors related to the development of aerospace products and equipment and the components needed for assembly, as well as air transportation and support activities. The region has clear strengths due to the presence of its major employers.

Key firms supporting the Aerospace target include but are not limited to:

  • CFAN is a joint venture between GE Aircraft Engines and SNECMA (a French multinational aircraft and rocket engine manufacturer) that produces GE90 engine fan blades that power the Boeing 777 airliner. 
  • UTC Aerospace Systems has its Aerostructures office in the City of San Marcos, where they provide engine outer casings and aftermarket support for the world’s newest large commercial twinjets, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 XWB.
  • Mensor Corporation designs and manufactures precision measuring instruments and automatic pressure test and calibration equipment. The company developed the first quartz manometer, a tool to measure pressure, designed for the aerospace industry.

With nearly 800 employees, aerospace products and parts manufacturing is the largest subsector within the target. The target has grown significantly in terms of regional employment over the last 10 years, more than doubling while national employment in equivalent subsectors grew by only 10 percent. Local competitive characteristics in Greater San Marcos (as opposed to national factors) contributed to job growth in all Aerospace business sectors. This is a positive finding because it speaks to opportunities to leverage these factors for additional regional growth.

Employment concentrations, measured by location quotients, are often used as an indication of clustering by firms in local business sectors. Data suggests that the Aerospace target in Greater San Marcos is starting to develop into a cluster. Four subsectors have location quotients of over 2.0, or double the employment concentration in the average U.S. community: nonscheduled air transportation (4.59), other electrical equipment and component manufacturing (4.38), aerospace product and parts manufacturing (3.33), and industrial machinery manufacturing (2.05). The architectural and structural metals manufacturing sector has a location quotient of 1.98. With very strong concentrations in several subsectors within this target and high average wages across the board, the region has an opportunity to continue developing Aerospace into a significant cluster by understanding supplier needs within the larger super-region, connecting research initiatives with existing companies, attracting prospective companies with existing assets, training and reskilling workers to fill jobs, and working to grow subsectors with low employment concentrations.

Greater San Marcos’ 2012 output of Aerospace-related exports is strong, contributing significantly to the exports generated by the larger 10-county super-regional labor shed. Greater San Marcos’ Aerospace target generates $738 million in exports, or 11.5 percent of the two-county region’s total. This percentage of exports is nearly double the percentage of the 10-county region’s exports generating from these subsectors (6.6 percent) and is higher than the percentage of state exports from these subsectors (9.0 percent). The greatest volume of exports within this target in the Greater San Marcos region is from aircraft engine and engine parts manufacturing ($164 million in exports), current-carrying wiring device manufacturing ($150 million), nonscheduled chartered passenger air transportation ($81 million), aircraft manufacturing ($65 million), and scheduled passenger air transportation ($44 million).


EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

Thriving Aerospace clusters typically require close proximity to research universities with strengths in fields including engineering, advanced materials, and aeronautics. This provides not only long-term research and development partnership opportunities (discussed in the next section), but also professional development options for existing and future workers.

  • Within its College of Science and Engineering, Texas State University offers undergraduate degrees in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, general manufacturing engineering, semiconductor manufacturing, engineering technology, industrial technology, mathematics, applied mathematics, and physics. Graduate degree programs include the PhD in Materials Science, Engineering, and Commercialization and master’s degrees in applied mathematics, computer science, engineering, materials physics, mathematics, physics, software engineering, and technology management. The university’s Department of Aerospace Studies has an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), which provides an opportunity for students to become Air Force officers upon graduation.
  • Austin Community College’s Hays County campus offers courses in Computer Information Technology, Computer Science, Geography, and Mathematics that may have applicability or can ultimately support the Aerospace sector. At the main ACC campus, associate degree and certificate programs are offered in architecture and engineering computer aided design, computer information technology, computer science, electronics and advanced technologies, engineering, mathematics, physics, and welding technology.
  • In addition to these programs, employers can draw from recent graduates from nearby research institutions: University of Texas-Austin and University of Texas-San Antonio. Among the abundance of relevant undergraduate and graduate programs offered at the two, there are aerospace-specific programs. UT-Austin has a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering with technical area options in atmospheric flight and space flight as well as a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) and a PhD in aerospace engineering. UT-San Antonio offers an aerospace studies minor through its Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

PLACE-BASED ASSETS AND OPPORTUNITIES

Partnerships between universities and industry often provide foundations for aerospace equipment manufacturers, prime defense contractors, or other large employers to attract federally-funded research centers or heavily influence existing research centers or vice versa. Through these partnerships, funded academic research can lead to innovative developments in technology and information, which can be used to improve processes and end products.

In Greater San Marcos, Texas State recently entered into a multi-million dollar contract with Jacobs Engineering to collaborate on advanced engineering and science work for NASA, which will provide students and faculty applied research opportunities. Currently, Jacobs will provide the funding for Texas State to employ a full-time engineering staff on-site in Houston. However, the university and Jacobs have started discussing the possibility of establishing presence on the Texas State campus or in STAR Park as well as the potential for funding and commercialization collaboration with startups at STAR Park.

In addition to Texas State University and the region’s major aerospace employers, Greater San Marcos benefits from the presence of the San Marcos Municipal Airport, which has 1,340 acres of developable land as well as its Redbird Skyport, a 27,000 square foot training space and flight school. The designated “reliever” facility for San Antonio’s and Austin’s international airports, the San Marcos Municipal Airport is the largest general aviation airport in the area and is an important asset for the region for many reasons. Because of the Municipal Airport and its staffed air traffic control tower, three asphalt runways exceeding 5,200 feet, a 100-foot wide parking ramp, executive hangars, security fencing, and on-site fixed-base operator, the region has enhanced transportation access, exiting infrastructure, and technology capacity. The airport also has a 40-acre Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) Magnet Site where businesses can locate and be eligible to take advantage of duty and ad valorem tax exemptions on goods shipped there, and 17 operating businesses, including Berry Aviation. Berry Aviation is a growing special aviation provider with a customer base that includes the U.S. government, for which the company provides international flight support by transporting personnel and other materials to defense sites. The Redbird Skyport is not only a training space and flight school, but also designs and tests flight simulators and hosts an annual flight industry and design conference, which supports innovation related to flight training.

Greater San Marcos is also in close proximity to San Antonio’s world-class aerospace assets, which include two active air force bases: Lackland AFB, the Air Force’s largest training wing, and Randolph AFB, the headquarters for Air Education and Training Command. Also nearby is Port San Antonio, a 1,900-acre Foreign Trade Zone-designated aerospace complex. Its nearly eight million square feet of leased facilities house over 80 private and public organizations focused on aerospace, logistics, manufacturing, government, and military as well as hangars, warehouses, training centers, and workforce housing. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and other major aerospace firms all have presence in San Antonio, which should be leveraged by the Greater San Marcos region.