GKN, an aerospace facility near the airport, was expected to bring in jobs and have a big impact on the local economy.
However, that could change, considering GKN was bought by Melrose Industries, a British based investment company, for $2.2 billion.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Griff Griffitts, Bay County Commissioner of Dist. 5, said.
The future of the $55 million investment and 170 jobs to Bay County is now uncertain.
“I think everybody worries when there’s some type of takeover like that,” Griffitts said.
GKN was the first of what county commissioners hoped would be a surge of aerospace companies moving to Bay County.
Since then, Project Soho, an aviation and aeronautics company, decided to relocate to the airport as well.
“GKN is just the anchor for the other facilities that will come in. So we’re hopeful that everything will continue like it should,” Griffitts said.
He said the county hasn’t invested any dollars into GKN yet, but has money set aside once they provide the new jobs. “Hopefully in a years time, they’ll have all the jobs and we’ll have paid out the property tax rebate that we promised them,” he said.
“Mergers and acquisitions in corporate business happen every day,” Becca Hardin, Bay County’s Economic Development Alliance president, said.
Hardin said the sale shouldn’t change anything.
“It’s business as usual. We are moving forward with getting them up and moving very quickly,” she said.
Even under new ownership, the company has signed a contract with the federal government to carry out the project.
“The fact that they have a completed building, a signed lease on the facility, they have a product that must be delivered to the federal government, tells us that they will maintain their presence in our community,” Hardin said.
However, not everything could stay the same.
“Depending on what happens with new management in GKN, they may have different growth strategies,” she said.
Hardin said they’re still continuing to actively help GKN staff the facility.