That helicopter flying overhead might have been made right here in Northeast Philadelphia on Red Lion Road. Northeast Airport-based AgustaWestland’s 560 employees make more than 50 helicopters a year, which are sold all over the world. The company’s copters can even be spotted in the movies. One was in the latest James Bond film, Skyfall.
AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corp. is a great example of a Pennsylvania manufacturer, said state Rep. Eli Evankovich, co- chairman of the newly formed House Manufacturing Caucus. And, said the Western Pennsylvania Republican, the members of the 100-member-strong bi-partisan caucus want to learn how to bring more manufacturers to the commonwealth.
Caucus members also want the companies already here to thrive. To find out what those manufacturers do, how they do it and what they need, caucus members have been touring Pennsylvania companies, and visited Agusta on Aug. 8.
Local legislators Ed Neilson (D-169th dist.) and Mark Cohen (D-202nd dist.) were among the lawmakers who toured the company with its CEO, William Hunt, a 1979 Archbishop Ryan grad.
“It is important to learn about these manufacturers, and what allows them to prosper here so we can create similar conditions all across the state,” Neilson said.
“It is too easy to sit in Harrisburg and discuss bills which affect these businesses without really understanding that what we do affects the livelihoods of so many,” said caucus co-chairman, Rep. John Galloway, a Lower Bucks County Democrat.
“First-hand knowledge will allow us to work as advocates on behalf of the manufacturing industry and develop policy initiatives that improve the commonwealth’s jobs climate,” Evankovich said.
“I believe the tour serves many purposes,” Cohen said in an Aug. 9 phone interview. “We are trying to gain information on public-private partnerships in creating jobs.”
He said Agusta leases its space from the city-owned Northeast Airport.
“We are interested in workforce development — education and training,” Cohen added, and “We are interested in questions of taxation and tax exemptions.”
Evankovich said more than a half-million Pennsylvanians work in manufacturing. “Its growth is critical to our economic future,” he said.
Cohen said Agusta has grown from 160 employees to 560. He said Hunt told the legislators that he fills the majority of jobs by recruitment and then trains his new employees.
Neilson said most of the company’s employees are local and more than half are veterans. Cohen said the company actively recruits veterans.
Other legislators who toured Agusta were Montgomery County Republican Marcy Toepel, Bucks Democrat Tina Davis and Michael Schlossberg, a Lehigh County Democrat. ••
Address: Northeast Airport, off Red Lion Road
CEO: William Hunt, who also is co-chair of Mayor Michael Nutter’s Manufacturing Task Force
Employees: More than 560
Makes: AW119Kx and AS139 helicopters on the assembly line of the 275,000-square-foot facility on 39 acres. AgustaWestland also serves a parts depot and a repair facility.
Years in Philadelphia: 33
2012 Revenue: $771 million
Production: 52 helicopters were assembled in 2012. Forty-five percent of the company’s Philadelphia production is exported.