Arizona is home to more than 1,200 aerospace and defense companies that contribute almost $15 billion annually to the economy and provide more than 150,000 jobs.
Located in the midst of the country’s fourth-largest aerospace market, Gilbert, Arizona offers access to regional infrastructure, low operating costs and the commitment of state and local leaders to the aerospace and defense sector making the community an optimum location firms of any scale that are considering expansion or relocation.
Arizona offers both Foreign Trade Zone and Military Re-Use Zone incentives which can provide the lowest effective tax rates available anywhere.
In addition, Greater Phoenix offers aviation-specific property tax abatements as one of their many business tax credits and other economic development programs, 330 VFR days for easy flying and four airports with runways more than 7,000 feet, making us a unique market that caters to both flight and the technologies that make flight possible.
Within the industry, Gilbert-based firms are excelling specifically in optics, satellites and FAA repair stations.
The community includes Fortune 100 Lockheed Martin, who established its lead business unit for research, development and production of world-class electro-optics and smart munitions systems in Gilbert. It is also the only facility in the Lockheed portfolio that provides field support for lasers.
Orbital ATK develops and manufactures small- and medium-class space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers from its Gilbert, Arizona manufacturing facility.
The company’s primary products are satellites and launch vehicles, including low-Earth orbit, geosynchronous-Earth orbit and planetary exploration spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific and defense missions; human-rated space systems for Earth-orbit, lunar, and other missions. Orbital also provides satellite subsystems and space-related technical services to U.S. Government agencies and laboratories. Noted as one of the most advanced satellite testing facilities in the world, Orbital currently employs over 300 within the community.
Praxis Resources, Inc., with extensive experience in electromechanical design, assembly, automation, robotics and electronics repair, Praxis provides design, build, and testing across a number of industries. One of its specialty focuses is avionics/accessory repair for commercial equipment.
Perform Air is an EASA / FAA Repair Station (IS3R590L) with an Accessory Class I and II rating, and a Limited Instrument and Airframe rating. The company specializes in hydraulic, pneumatic, electro-mechanical, and water and waste component overhaul and repair.
In addition, more than 25 companies, including Cessna, Embraer and Hawker Beechcraft, are located only half a mile from Gilbert’s border in the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport’s industrial airpark, a submarket that is surrounded by a foreign trade zone.
Gilbert-based companies like Orbital Sciences are partnering with Gilbert schools through Project Lead the Way in order to help students develop the skills needed to succeed in a Global economy. These partnerships develop the next generation of critical thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers.
For additional information about Gilbert's labor force, employment densities, top employers, and educational attainment and resources, please visit our Talent Pipeline page.
Recognized as the reliever airport for passenger and freight traffic for Sky Harbor International, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is noted as one of the fastest growing airports in the country currently serving one million passengers each year.
Commercially, the airport is developing as an international aerospace center with aircraft maintenance, modification, testing and pilot training. More than 35 aviation companies currently operate at the airport generating over $685 million in annual economic activity. In addition, Gateway has been designated as a Foreign Trade Zone and a Military Reuse Zone offering qualified aviation companies significant financial savings through transactional privilege tax exemptions, tax credits, and reclassification of state real and personal property taxes.
According to population and growth estimates, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and surrounding areas will boast over 100,000 new jobs by 2035, making it one of the largest employment centers in the state of Arizona.
Four major research institutions in Arizona have been provided the NASA Space Grant: Arizona State University, Embry Riddle University (home of the nation's highest-ranked aerospace engineering program among non-doctoral program schools, according to U.S. News & World Report), Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.
Arizona State University (ASU)
As one of the world’s leading research and education institutions, ASU is home to one of the country’s three altitude chambers; the Flexible Display Center; the Center on Adaptive, Intelligence, Materials and Systems (CAIMS); and the Airworthiness Assurance Center of Excellence. ASU has participated in every major NASA planetary science mission since Apollo first put man on the moon.
University of Arizona (UA)
Known around the world for the College of Optical Sciences, the Department of Planetary Sciences and the College of Engineering, the UA provides baccalaureate and graduate degree programs for highly motivated students who are pursuing careers in aerospace and defense areas. The UA led NASA’s $420 million Phoenix Mars Mission and was an indispensable player in the recent NASA Mission to Mars that resulted in the landing of the robot Curiosity. UA has been awarded 5th most NASA grants in the country when comparing both dollar amount and number of grants to other universities (both public and private). UA is also at the forefront of developing technologies used in applications from bio-sensing to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Example projects include understanding the black hole at the center of our own galaxy, building cameras and large mirrors that have been installed in the largest Earth and space telescopes, and building systems for sensor data collection for intelligence and autonomous system decision-making.
Northern Arizona University (NAU)
Located in Flagstaff and the third-largest public university in Arizona, NAU serves nearly 21,000 students and has developed a curriculum that aligns perfectly with the state’s aerospace and defense initiatives. This includes diverse astrophysics programs, mechanical engineering, aerospace and defense research, adaptive research and materials, advanced composites and optomechanics:
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Founded just 22 years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight, Embry-Riddle is recognized as one of the best aviation and aerospace universities in the world. The curriculum covers the operation, engineering, research, manufacturing, marketing and management of modern aircraft and the systems that support them. The university has a deep pool of talented researchers and highly advanced students who regularly conduct extensive research that addresses the unique needs of aviation, aerospace and related industries.
Chandler-Gilbert Community College (CGCC)
Aviation maintenance programs at CGCC are certificate/degree and university transfer programs that have been designed for students to meet the aviation industry’s need for well-prepared technicians. Technical specialties include aircraft maintenance, electronics/avionics and aircraft construction.
Arizona's robust incentives for aerospace and defense companies include access to more than $200 million through refundable tax credits, reimbursable grants and property tax reductions making it the clear choice for innovative businesses to start, expand, relocate, and thrive.
In addition to attractive, cost-saving incentives, the state offers: