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McDONNELL DOUGLAS, NAVY, STATE OF ILLINOIS PROGRAM HELP MINORITY-OWNED COMPANY SET UP PARTS FACTORY

 McDONNELL DOUGLAS, NAVY, STATE OF ILLINOIS PROGRAM
 HELP MINORITY-OWNED COMPANY SET UP PARTS FACTORY
 ST. LOUIS, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Navy's F/A-18E/F development program is helping to infuse one of the nation's most economically distressed areas with training and jobs.
 Through the federal Mentor-Protege Pilot Program, the Navy, the state of Illinois and F/A-18 manufacturer McDonnell Douglas (NYSE: MD) are helping a new, minority-owned company set up an aircraft parts metal-finishing factory near East St. Louis, Ill.
 River City Metal Finishing Inc., will hire and train its initial cadre of new employees starting around the first of the year. Employment could build to a peak of about 70 people.
 The mentor-protege program is a federal initiative to encourage major Department of Defense contractors to provide developmental assistance to enterprises that qualify as small disadvantaged businesses, or SDBs.
 Bill Wilkerson, owner of River City Metal Finishing, says the arrangement is accomplishing exactly what the Congressionally sponsored initiative was designed to do. "This new company serves as an impetus for economic redevelopment in an area that needs it badly," he said. "With the support of McDonnell Douglas and the Navy, we're forging a national model that will demonstrate how well the mentor-protege concept can work."
 River City is converting an old warehouse into a state-of-the-art factory that will meet stringent environmental requirements now and in the future. In it, both military and commercial aircraft parts will be anodized, grit blasted, surface treated, primed, painted, coated and sealed. River City also will perform non-destructive testing.
 The new company is expected to generate an estimated $5 million - $6 million of revenue annually in the East St. Louis area, where unemployment tends to hover at a rate about 50 percent greater than that of metropolitan St. Louis. With only a few exceptions, all the new employees will be hired from the immediate area.
 McDonnell Douglas is providing River City with technical, managerial and financial assistance, help with training of employees and certification of technical processes. This mentor-protege agreement runs for five years.
 Michael M. Sears, vice president and F/A-18E/F general manager for McDonnell Aircraft Co., McDonnell Douglas' combat aircraft component and prime contractor for the F/A-18, notes that the River City effort has required unprecedented cooperation among a variety of groups -- the mentor-protege principals themselves as well as individuals with the U.S. Navy and its F/A-18 program office, which arranged $500,000 in startup funding for the effort; and the state of Illinois, which will assist in hiring and training the new workers.
 "The stronger we can help make the small disadvantaged business community, the more robust it will grow and the more we'll be able to rely on it for additional products and services," Sears said.
 McDonnell Douglas was "the first defense contractor to join the program and one of the few that has been proactive in supporting the spirit of the law," according to the May/June issue of Minority Business Enterprise magazine.
 McDonnell Douglas serves as mentor in three of about 10 mentor- protege relationships approved by the Defense Department nationwide, has an approved letter of intent with a fourth protege and is considering several other agreements.
 F/A-18E/F engineering and manufacturing development was initially funded by Congress for fiscal year 1992, approved by the Defense Department in May and awarded a letter contract in July. Northrop is the F/A-18's principal subcontractor. Other major subcontractors include General Electric and Hughes.
 -0- 9/9/92
 /CONTACT: Jo Anne Davis of McDonnell Aircraft, 314-234-4187/
 (MD) CO: McDonnell Douglas Corp.; River City Metal Finishing Inc. ST: Illinois IN: ARO SU:


KJ -- LA033 -- 7734 09/09/92 18:01 EDT
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Date:Sep 9, 1992
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