Dave Moore, Staff Writer
The apprenticeship program at the Red Oak facility of Bombardier Aerostructures earned recognition from the Dallas Regional Chamber at its Nov. 17 Tomorrow Fund Investor Breakfast.
The DRC awarded Tony Curry – General Manager at Bombardier – the Q4 Building Tomorrow Together award for the program, which launched roughly two years ago.
Curry said that the program offers him the same chance he received years ago in Ireland.
“Last week (marked) 35 years since I started as an apprentice in Belfast in Northern Ireland,” he said. “There weren’t quite as many opportunities during the late 1980s in Northern Ireland as there are in Dallas, but when I moved my family here to Dallas in 2019, in the Red Oak area, we had basically 80% subcontractors and 20% were permanent.”
Curry said work at the factory wasn’t going well.
“We decided to partner with the Dallas Regional Chamber, the Texas Workforce Commission, and Texas State Technical College to design an aircraft program that would bring people into the aerospace sector without a formal qualification,” he said.
And as a result of the paid training, the Bombardier facility now employs 82% of its workers full-time, in an area of the metroplex that faces some economic challenges.
Currently, the Red Oak facility employs 80 apprentices, and Bombardier is looking to recruit another 50 before year’s end.
“I’ve run factories in different parts of the world, and I can honestly say that … there’s a can-do attitude in Dallas,” Curry said, adding that there are almost now 400 full-time jobs at the facility.
Also speaking at the event was Vistra CEO Curt Morgan, who updated attendees on the status of Texas’ power grid and Vistra’s efforts to prepare for severe winter weather. The company is spending $80 million to tackle the problem of operating power plants that must deal with both extreme heat and extreme cold.
Those attending the meeting represent companies that invest in the DRC’s Tomorrow Fund, which provides the DRC with the resources necessary to drive economic development, improve education, and attract talent to the Dallas Region. Along those lines, the Tomorrow Fund supports the DRC’s work with businesses and the community to advocate for diversity and equity in leadership, community investment in underserved areas, and transparent and accountable policing standards and equitable criminal justice policies. The fund also supports the DRC’s public policy advocacy efforts in Dallas, Austin, and Washington, D.C., which assist the work of all the DRC’s pillars.
The Q4 Tomorrow Fund Investor Breakfast was sponsored by Holmes Murphy.