Alcoa is expanding Virginia facility with new manufacturing process

Aerospace manufacturer Alcoa is increasing its production in Virginia to meet growing demand for aircraft engine parts, according to an official company statement. Alcoa is investing $25 million to expand its power and propulsion facility in Hampton, Virginia.

The company is implementing a new process called enhanced equiax (EEQ) casting that reduces the weight of its highest-volume jet engine blades by 20 percent and improves the blades' aerodynamic qualities. EEQ uses nickel-based superalloys for the blades. These can be used on newly built aircraft or retrofitted to existing engines.

It took Alcoa five years of research and development at their facility located in Whitehall, Michigan, and technical center located near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to develop EEQ. The process will require equipment for a new production line. Alcoa will also modify some of its current equipment for the new line.

The state of Virginia and local authorities are giving Alcoa $2 million worth of financial incentives, as well as a $1.3 million exemption on use and sales tax, according to the company statement.

Alcoa began the expansion process in June and expects the project to be finished by the end of 2015. It currently employs 650 at the Hampton facility, and expects to hire 75 new employees over the next three years.

"Advanced manufacturing is thriving in Virginia, and expansions like this help to diversify our economy and grow jobs of the 21st century," Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said. "This project is a great testament to Alcoa's commitment to Virginia, and the advantages of the Commonwealth's top-rate business environment that helps valued global companies succeed."

Businesses expanding their operations to meet growing demand for their products should work with manufacturing recruiters to find the most qualified candidates for their open positions.