DENNIS SEID: Eurocopter plant shows the power of partnerships, teamwork

Merci, merci beaucoup. Or in Elvis-speak: thank you, thank you very much.

North Mississippi – no, make that all of Mississippi -should be grateful for Wednesday's grand opening of the American Eurocopter plant at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Lowndes County.

Based on the reception the company got, I think we've shown that we are indeed most appreciative.

The state-of-the-art facility is more than just a high-tech manufacturing plant for top-of-the-line helicopters that will be sold and used by customers all over the world. It's also the fruit of a magnificent partnership, from local government to Washington, D.C., and to Europe.

Sure, the 100 jobs now, and perhaps 200 or more in the future, are great accomplishments.

But it's also a demonstration that we can – and should – work together, despite our differences.

It also shows that we have the talent and the skilled work force to attract companies like American Eurocopter. Hopefully, it is a sign of more good things to come.

A little background on the company: It is a subsidiary of Eurocopter, the world's leader in helicopter manufacturing. It also falls under the global unbrella of EADS, the world's second largest aerospace and defense company. EADS – which stands for European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. – has in its portfolio of companies commercial aircraft maker Airbus, space company Astrium, and MBDA, the world's largest missile company.

Pretty impressive, wouldn't you say?

Building relationships

So we have a global manufacturer that was looking to build a manufacturing facility anywhere it wanted. And they set their eyes on the Golden Triangle.

Speaker after speaker, from Gov. Haley Barbour to EADS CEO Philippe Camus, talked about the teamwork and the partnerships that developed to land the facility here.

It all boiled down to building relationships and trust, something we Mississippians don't get enough credit for.

Mississippi, the “Hospitality State,” was certainly that to our friends from Europe. Just ask them.

Fabrice Bregier, president and CEO of Eurocopter, said he was impressed by the warm welcome that he and other company representatives received.

Indeed, you had to worry a little about a French company coming to the U.S., considering that the war in Iraq has taken a toll on relationships between the U.S. and our traditional allies in Europe, especially the French.

But nobody mentioned that Wednesday, nor was it necessary. This wasn't about politics, this was about economics.

“This is the best place to make a new home,” Camus said, and he meant it.

He also said he was proud that his company could help keep jobs in the United States.

And that's the best thing about it all. We're getting jobs – high-tech, high-paying jobs – in America. Most importantly, we're getting them in Mississippi.

Bienvenue. Et merci encore. Welcome. And thanks again.

Dennis Seid is business editor for the Daily Journal. Reach him at 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com