Appalachian Power Proves The Sky's the Limit

Appalachian Power brings new aerospace jobs to Advantage Valley region.

Sarah Kuta
On Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 12:36
advantage valley

Advantage Valley is ready for takeoff. 

The region is welcoming aerospace businesses with open arms, thanks to an innovative initiative led by Appalachian Power

Counties in the Advantage Valley area are among 21 in West Virginia now certified as “AEROready,” an important designation made by an independent national consulting firm that means they have the necessary workforce, infrastructure and capabilities to support the aerospace industry. 

Working alongside local economic development groups, Appalachian Power led the certification process, which aims to bring new aerospace companies – and, along with them, new jobs – to the region. 

The area is home to a skilled workforce specializing in metalwork, one of the top skill sets needed in the aerospace industry. And future aerospace employees are in the pipeline, thanks to new degree programs and training opportunities from Marshall University and Mountwest Community & Technical College. 

“This area is ripe with opportunity for aerospace,” says Heather Vanater, Appalachian Power’s economic and business development manager in West Virginia. 

Across the state there are six airports with commercial airline service, along with 15 general aviation airports and 20 public use airports. 

“What gives us a unique lens is that we have the available skilled workforce for the industry, as well as adequate infrastructure,” Vanater says. 

The cost of doing business is lower in West Virginia, which boasts lower average wages for avionics technicians, aerospace engineers and machine tool programmers than states like Texas, Washington and California. 

Electricity rates are also lower than the average industrial rate. The state of West Virginia offers discounts, tax credits and other financial incentives for aerospace companies. 

Other benefits abound, including close proximity to aerospace purchasing sectors and equipment manufacturers, robust transportation infrastructure and the ability to reach 56 percent of the U.S. population within a day’s drive. 

“We have everything you need to succeed right here,” Vanater says. 

Learn more at Appalachian Power.


Sarah Kuta is an award-winning Colorado writer and editor. She regularly writes about travel, nature, education, personal finance and other topics.