Georgia Centers of Innovation Aerospace

The Center of Innovation for Aerospace provides the technical industry expertise, collaborative research and partnerships to help the state's aerospace industry connect, compete and grow. The Center advances recognition of Georgia’s strength in the global aerospace industry, and contributes to the entrepreneurial and educational ecosystems required for its continued growth. Home to more than 800 aerospace companies and total workforce of 99,000, the state benefits from a diverse industry across the sectors of manufacturing, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), and transportation. Home to powerhouses Gulfstream Aerospace, Delta Air Lines, and Lockheed Martin, aerospace products are the number one export from the state of Georgia at $8.44 billion.


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COI Director Spotlight: Steve Justice, Center for Aerospace


The Georgia Centers of Innovation comprise six key industries in the state – Aerospace, Agribusiness, Energy Technology, IT, Logistics and Manufacturing. We are doing a monthly series showcasing the director for each Center and the role they play in expanding business in Georgia.

Steve Justice has been the director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Aerospace since 2010. He has over 35 years experience in the aerospace industry working for large and small companies including Lockheed Martin, Gulfstream Aerospace, Delta Air Lines, Northrop, and the Ginn Group. He’s also been a part of big projects including the LM C-130J Hercules and F-22 Raptor, the Northrop B-2 Stealth Bomber, and the Gulfstream IV business jet. Steve brings industry knowledge and expertise like you won’t find anywhere else. This man is a must-know in Georgia.


17146971839_23eba5debd_zWhat drew you to this job?

As somebody who was born, raised, educated, and worked in Georgia in aerospace, the idea that I could help grow the local aerospace industry was a very powerful inducement. I say that before, my job was to grow one company, but now my job is to grow all of them!

What do you offer aerospace companies in Georgia?

Our main benefit is our knowledge and experience in the industry that allows us to find the right connections for a company. Speaking the language of aerospace is very important to be able to understand the issues and the needs of the company.

Combine that knowledge and expertise with the resources of our universities and technical colleges – along with other state organizations – and you have a very valuable asset to Georgia’s aerospace companies.

What is your favorite part of what you do?

I like helping a company find a solution to their need. The best days are when we get a message from a company saying that our efforts helped them win a new contract or new business. Luckily we hear that quite a bit!

Why is Georgia a great place for aerospace?

The industry is very diverse and not dependent on one sector of the industry. When one sector goes down another goes up. Our balance of manufacturing, maintenance, and air transportation sectors allowed Georgia aerospace to thrive during the 2008 economic downturn.

What’s the hottest area in aerospace right now?

More than 35,000 new commercial aircraft are set to be built over the next 20 years. This presents an opportunity for Georgia aerospace companies to expand further to support the manufacture, operation and maintenance of this expanding fleet. We are also working hard to be on the leading edge of the commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) sectors.

What are you most excited about for the aero industry and Georgia in 2016?

We have opportunities for our existing companies to expand further and take advantage of the growing commercial aircraft market while growing our small number of UAS and space companies. Georgia’s exports of aerospace products grew over 250% in the last decade, and we can grow even more over the coming decade.

Steve with pilot for DC fly-overWhat do you do in your spare time?

I’m an “aerospace guy” so I do quite a bit with aerospace organizations including the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA), Commemorative Air Force, Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), and the Atlanta Aero Club. I also volunteer with the Boy Scouts and am a volunteer swim coach.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given

As simple as it sounds, the best advice is to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If everyone lived that, the world would be a better place.

What are you currently watching on Netflix?

I’m starting Marvel’s “Jessica Jones” series, but just haven’t had the time to binge watch it yet.

What do you hope Georgia’s aerospace industry looks like 5 years from now and how will your Center will be a part of it?

In 5 years, the Georgia aerospace industry will be even bigger with more exports. UAS will be flying all over the state working in film, agriculture, infrastructure inspections and public safety to lower costs and improve overall safety.

We will also have spacecraft built in Georgia in orbit and may even see launches of satellites and people from here. COIA will be a big part of making that happen through our projects with companies throughout the state.


For more information on the Center of Innovation for Aerospace and to connect with Steve Justice and his team, click here.

Contact GDEcD

For more information on Georgia’s public-private business partnerships, contact the Georgia Department of Economic Development at 404.962.4000.

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