LITTLE ROCK – State Senator Jeremy Hutchinson of Benton will be the Senate chairman of the[more] newly formed Aerospace and Aviation Legislative Caucus.
Formation of the caucus was announced at the state Capitol Monday.
“I’m honored, and I’m also humbled because of the importance of the aviation caucus’ mission,” Hutchinson said. “The aviation industry is a vital component of the Arkansas economy and there is a lot the legislature can do to strengthen its foundations and lay the groundwork for expansion.”
In Arkansas, more than 9,000 jobs with a yearly payroll of $133.4 million are in the aviation industry. Overseas exports from Arkansas aviation firms are valued at more than $500 million a year.
Combined with the benefits of the state’s 91 public and community-owned airports, the economic impact of aerospace and aviation in Arkansas is an estimated $1.8 billion a year.
“The benefits of aviation are not limited to those well paying jobs in industries that build and refurbish aircraft,” Hutchinson said. “They extend to smaller communities, where the presence of an airport is crucial for the local economy.
“While I’ve been pursuing my pilot’s license at the Saline County Airport I’ve seen firsthand the economic benefits it provides the county,” Hutchinson said. “I’ve also learned that if we help the airport, the economic benefits will extend throughout Saline County.”
The mission of the Aerospace and Aviation Caucus is to promote a business-friendly environment with common sense legislation that supports growth. The caucus supports bills that promote economic development, safety, mobility and tourism.
The caucus will work in a bipartisan effort to make sure the Little Rock Air Force Base does not suffer from federal budget cuts.
The caucus will also focus on education, and in preparing the Arkansas work force with the skills needed to staff high-tech aerospace firms.
There are more than 5,100 licensed pilots in Arkansas and about 3,600 aircraft based in the state, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, a non-profit that represents 400,000 members nationwide. About 3,300 of its members live in Arkansas.
Hutchinson represents Senate District 33, which comprises much of Saline County and parts of Pulaski County.