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First of its kind aviation maintenance training programs to open in Illinois

Christian Fernsby |
Governor JB Pritzker joined the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM), Congresswoman Marie Newman, City of Chicago officials, and members of the community in announcing a first of its kind aviation training facility opening in Chicago's McKinley Park neighborhood.

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With support from the State of Illinois, the new AIM campus will expand access to industry standard aviation training programs, increase the talent pipeline for Illinois' growing aviation industry, and unlock a long term investment of 75 permanent jobs for the community.

At 137,000 square feet, the Chicago facility will be AIM's largest training program in the nation, and its 14th campus overall. Working with longstanding industry partners and a range of educational partners in Chicago, the new campus plans to begin enrolling for classes set to begin on September 27th.

"Our long term economic success as a state depends on our investment in the next generation of leaders, who will soon take on the task of steering our most important industries to meet the demands of the next decades," said Governor JB Pritzker.

"As governor, I'm committed to building on Illinois's transportation leadership by working to educate and empower new talent and bring historically underrepresented populations into the field. I look forward to watching the AIM campus take the talent, diversity, and strength of our workforce to new heights."

Construction on the training facility is now complete at 3711 S. Ashland Ave. AIM converted a former warehouse into a modern training facility with a large hangar, 17 classrooms, an avionics lab, and 31 administrative offices to support students

The Chicago campus will be 30% larger than AIM's two current largest campuses, which will allow them to bring aviation maintenance training currently lacking in the area. AIM is a leading provider of training for students pursuing certification in aviation maintenance.

AIM received an Illinois Economic Development for a Growing Economy ("EDGE") Tax Credit based on its plans to deliver a $10 million capital investment in the McKinley Park community and 75 jobs by the end of 2022.

AIM will deliver FAA certified aviation maintenance training for students, with an initial 40 students to be enrolled in 2021 and plans to serve 200 students next year. Following approval by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and other industry accreditation approvals, AIM has established a credit sharing agreement with the City Colleges of Chicago, allowing it to offer coursework this fall.

AIM has also partnered with Southern Illinois University's School of Aviation to provide opportunities for AIM students to receive a bachelor's degree post graduation and will also pursue articulated agreements with additional Illinois universities and colleges to spur the recruitment of minority students.

With the Olive Harvey College partnership, students will have the opportunity to take four General courses while in high school and those General courses will transfer into AIM's A&P program and beyond.

Graduates focusing on the field of aviation maintenance in the Chicago metropolitan area will have the potential to earn an annual wage of $72,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to higher than average wages, the job outlook for aircraft mechanics shows faster than average growth with jobs in the aerospace industry in Illinois projected to grow 9% over the next 10 years, compared to just 3% for the U.S.

Training programs will prepare students with certifications needed to work for AAR, United Airlines, or any number of airline or aviation industry partners based in Chicago and Illinois. AAR and industry partners will receive discounted tuition rates for employees to encourage more diverse recruitment and solidify a consistent pipeline of industry professionals.

"Over the next five years, United plans to adds hundreds of brand new aircraft to our fleet which creates an opportunity to hire 25,000 new team members across every department, including up to 3,000 in Illinois alone," said Tom Doxey, United's Senior Vice President of Technical Operations.

"Because of the specialized training our maintenance teams require, it's imperative that we have access to state of the art facilities and programs like this one to help ensure we are pulling from a pipeline of quality talent. This is an exciting step forward and we're proud to work alongside the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago as the vision for the new AIM campus now becomes a reality."

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