Leaders warn against more cuts to aerospace, defense

More than 39,000 jobs in Florida at stake

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., and Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll addressed more than 400 workers Monday at the Kaman Aerostructures facility in Jacksonville to warn about the threat to U.S. economic and military strength posed by $500 billion in sequestration budget cuts scheduled for January.

A study commissioned by Aerospace Industries Association last year found that Florida could lose more than 39,000 jobs if Congress does not act to stop the cuts.

In addition to Crenshaw, a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and Carroll, workers also heard from Textron Inc. Chairman and CEO Scott C. Donnelly, Sohacki Industries President Tom Sohacki, Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Marion C. Blakey and Kaman Corporation Chairman, President and CEO Neal J. Keating. The speakers warned that with only 225 days until the cuts begin, Congress needs to act this summer to stop the clock on sequestration and enact alternative means of deficit reduction.

"We're here because there's a real crisis brewing for our company, for our industry and for our country," Keating said. "We need to do something about it. Together we'll make sure that this company stays strong and that this country is always second to none."

Aerospace and defense supports more than 167,000 jobs in Florida, bringing $14 billion in revenue and fueling $5 billion in exports -- an economic powerhouse that has needlessly been placed at risk, officials said.

"The aerospace and defense industry now supports more than 3.5 million American jobs, and drives two and a quarter percent of U.S. GDP," Blakey said. "This industry -- and especially its workers -- is a critical national asset. Does anyone think we can afford to lose these jobs?"

AIA said it began its Second to None campaign to educate leaders, elected officials and the general public about the threat sequestration cuts pose to national security, economy and industrial base capabilities. Rallies like Monday's event are being scheduled across the nation to bring home the risk to innovative companies like Kaman Corporation and to urge Congress to find an alternative to sequestration cuts as soon as possible to avoid massive disruptions in workforce and businesses, officials said.