The plane parts are manufactured in the Sverdlovsk region. Source: Pressphoto, titanium valley
aerospace company Boeing announced during President Barack Obama’s visit that
it would invest $27 billion into Russia
over the next 30 years, authorities in the 4.3-million strong Ural Mountains
region of Sverdlovsk
were jubilant. The company had just launched a $70-million joint venture (Ural
Boeing Manufacturing) to construct aircraft components with local company
VSMPO-AVISMA, the world’s largest producer of titanium. Eighteen billion
dollars of the proposed investment was earmarked for acquiring titanium
Two years later, several titanium
components for Boeing’s Dreamliner jet, as well as landing gear beams for the
737, are manufactured in the Sverdlovsk region
before they are shipped to Boeing’s factory in Portland, Ore.,
for final assembly.
“The efforts of the Sverdlovsk regional authorities to create a positive
investment climate have not only allowed one of Russia’s oldest titanium
manufacturers to lead a major modernization of their production facilities,
they have also provided the opportunity for international industrial
integration,” commented Ural Boeing Manufacturing General Director Gary
Kessler. Despite producing 25 percent of the world’s titanium and being a major
supplier to Boeing and EADS, VSMPO-AVISMA remains little known outside Russia.
The local capital of Yekaterinburg, an
industrial hub with more than one million citizens, has a relationship with the
United States - and France - that
goes back to the 19th century, when the Ural region supplied the metal for the
frame of the Statue of Liberty.
A strategic closed city of the Soviet defense industry, Yekaterinburg opened up
its doors to international manufacturing giants in the mid 1990s in an attempt
to reorient defense production. American firms currently lead the way with $1.8
billion in trade turnover in 2010 alone, with major investments coming from
companies like 3M and Hewlett Packard. “Unlike in Moscow,
there aren’t that many American companies operating in Yekaterinburg,”
commented Igor Chernogolov, president of Penetron Russia. “That’s why regional
authorities give us a lot of attention.”
Forbes magazine recently ranked Sverdlovsk
the second most attractive Russian region for foreign investors.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
unveiled the formation of a “Titanium
Valley” special economic
zone in the region to attract foreign investment.
The project will involve $530 million in federal investments, with the hope of creating 15,000 jobs.
900 Miles from Moscow. Source: Drawing by Niyaz Karim
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