Battle Creek Enquirer: Peters champions aviation jobs at Battle Creek rally

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and several corporate leaders lauded Calhoun County's aviation industry and its contributions to the state and national economy at a rally Friday in Battle Creek.

"This is not just a job here; this is a passion," Peters, a first-term senator, told a crowd of about 100 people. "This is something that's in your blood, this is something that you love and this is something that you're able to do that contributes so much to our country from a technological standpoint to a business standpoint."

Peters joined leaders from Avfuel Corp, Duncan Aviation, L-3 Communications and Williams International for the event in an airplane hangar on Duncan's Battle Creek campus. The purpose of the gathering was to promote the general aviation industry and spotlight the way local aviation jobs affect the state's economic forecast.

During his remarks, Duncan Aviation President and CEO Aaron Hilkemann said the company employs 600 people in Battle Creek with plans of expanding that number in the near future.

Of its local employees, Hilkemann said 96 have at least one other family member working at the company, including nine husband-and-wife teams. One family, he said, has had at least five employees work there and is in its third generation at the company. He said the company, now in its 60th year of operations, also has been friendly to active and retired military personnel, as 22 percent of its Battle Creek workforce falls into that category.

A 2015 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers reported the general aviation industry in Michigan is responsible for at least 23,000 jobs and more than $6 billion in economic output annually, according to a Friday news release.

By:  Dillon Davis
Source: Battle Creek Enquirer