British aerospace manufacturer eyes new technology hub in Fort Worth

A British aerospace manufacturer serving more than 90 percent of the world’s aircraft and engine manufacturers is looking to Fort Worth as a potential location for a 100,000-square-foot global technology hub.

GKN Aerospace’s plan was presented to the Fort Worth City Council earlier this week. With its North American headquarters in Westlake, the company develops, builds and supplies advanced aerospace systems, operates 38 manufacturing sites in 12 countries, and employs more than 15,000 people worldwide.

Michael Hennig, the city’s economic development manager, said GKN has made Fort Worth the preferred location for its corporate R&D centers in North America.

The company is also looking for plants in Arlington, Missouri, McKinney, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The proposed Fort Worth base is located north of Naval Air Station, near the 820 Loop.

“We are hopeful and all of us are committed to helping GKN settle in Fort Worth,” Mayor Marty Parker said during a working session discussing the project.

What really makes Fort Worth competitive is its R&D credit program, which was created in response to the city’s 2019 strategic plan to attract more high-tech jobs, Hennig said.

To attract GKN, Fort Worth will offer the company up to $7 million in grants based on its research and development costs. GKN estimates it will spend $40.5 million on research and development over five years.

The grants are available for the company’s property tax, provided it generates approximately $91.6 million in new property tax increments.

Hennig said GKN will create 100 new jobs in Fort Worth by its fifth year of operation, with an average minimum wage of $125,000 a year.

If Fort Worth is selected, GKN expects to open the center by the end of 2024 with at least $4 million in research and development costs in order to qualify for tax credits.

Through a spokesman, GKN said it was “thankful” to the city for considering R&D credit incentives. “This city and region has a lot to offer, and we look forward to continuing discussions,” its statement said.

Incentives will be voted on in October. 25 Council meetings.

In addition to having its North American headquarters in Westlake, GKN has strong ties to aerospace companies in North Texas.

The company is a supplier to a major military program that produces F-35 fighter jets at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth Assembly Plant. GKN signed a 10-year deal with Honeywell in 2021 to supply landing gear and brakes for F-35s produced by European allies.

It also supplies launch tubes for the Patriot missile program overseen by Lockheed Martin’s Missile and Fire Control Division in Grand Prairie.

In July, ATI Inc. (formerly Allegheny Technologies) announced a multi-year agreement to supply GKN with most of its titanium plate and sheet products. This summer, ATI moved its headquarters from Pittsburgh to Dallas to focus on the aerospace and defense industry.

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