Gov. Scott: Aviation company to add Lakeland jobs - WFLA News Channel 8

Gov. Scott: Aviation company to add Lakeland jobs

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LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

Wednesday, Governor Rick Scott announced that Draken International will create 55 jobs and invest nearly $6.7 million in capital in the Lakeland area over the next three years. The company will expand its corporate headquarters and maintenance, repair and overhaul operations (MRO) at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.

"What Draken's doing to help our military do a good job, so they can defend our freedom is very important," Governor Scott told the crowded gathered at Lakeland Linder for the announcement.

Governor Scott also said nearly 300,000 private-sector jobs have been created in the past two years, and today Florida is one of the best states in the nation to do business, which means more jobs for Florida families.

"The housing markets come back. We've paid down state debt. We're doing things to get Florida families back to work," Scott said.

One of those families is Charles Smith's. The military veteran lost his job in Lakeland, and he thought he'd have to leave Florida to find work. That would also mean leaving behind his two daughters. Instead, he now works for Draken.

"I personally don't consider it a job," Smith said. "I like coming here. I look forward to coming here. The people here are outstanding."

Draken provides aviation service capabilities such as airborne adversary support, threat simulation, aerial refueling, research and testing for all branches of the United States armed forces and Department of Defense. With over 50 jets, the company operates the largest fleet of privately owned tactical aircraft in the world.

Jared Isaacman, CEO of Draken International, states "Draken International is pleased to announce we have signed a ten-year lease with Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, committing our company to the economic growth of Lakeland and the Central Florida area. With over 50 tactical, highly-capable fighter aircraft, Draken International is a leading provider of training services to our nation's military and defense industry.  As we continue to grow, we will endeavor to bring more business and more jobs to Lakeland. I also want to thank the local political & civic leaders for making us feel so welcome in our new home."  

Draken International's partners in this project included the Central Florida Development Council of Polk County, Lakeland Economic Development Council, City of Lakeland, Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, the Florida Department of Transportation and Enterprise Florida.

"On behalf of the Polk County Board of County Commission and the Central Florida Development Council, we are very pleased to congratulate Draken International on its recent expansion at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.  We are proud to be Draken's county of choice and we look forward to continuing our winning relationship with them," said R. Todd Dantzler, Polk County Commission, District 4.

Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields said, "Draken International represents the high skill, high wage jobs that communities target, and Lakeland is very proud that they decided to call Lakeland Linder Regional Airport their home. We feel that Draken will ultimately serve as a catalyst for corresponding businesses, causing a ripple effect that will reach far beyond the boundaries of our municipal airport."

Florida is home to nearly 1,600 aviation companies, with areas of excellence in MRO, flight training, logistics, global air cargo, simulation/training, passenger to freighter conversions, avionics installation and retrofit, and air travel. Florida ranks second among states for aviation, aerospace, and space establishments, and its more than 100 public use airports support global commerce, aircraft technology testing, and manufacturing operations.

"What an accomplishment for Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, the City of Lakeland, Polk County and the State of Florida in our collective efforts to lure Draken International to locate their headquarters in Lakeland, FL," said airport director Gene Conrad. "Lakeland Linder will be home to the largest fleet of privately owned and operated tactical aircraft in the world.  We are excited about seeing those aircraft in the skies of Lakeland, but we are equally excited about the jobs that Draken is bringing to our region."

Secretary of Commerce Gray Swoope understands the importance of this expansion, and the ties to the state's 20 major military installations and 3 unified combatant commands. "Florida is one of the most military-friendly states in the nation. Our state provides tremendous opportunities for companies like Draken to build and expand a successful operation," said Swoope, who also serves as president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, the state's lead economic development organization.

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary Ananth Prasad said, "The Florida Department of Transportation is pleased to partner with Lakeland Linder Regional Airport to foster Draken International's further expansion as a Florida-based aviation company. Florida airports continue to be an economic catalyst for private sector growth and job creation."

 

 

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