Bombardier Aerospace is expanding its aircraft service center in Tucson, hiring 116 workers recently with plans to add more, the company and economic-development officials announced today.

The Montreal-based company — which had about 630 employees at the start of the year — credited state and local officials with responding to growth concerns at its Tucson International Airport site.

Among those efforts, the Arizona Commerce Authority has allocated federal stimulus money to build a new security fence, to allow Bombardier to easily move about its part of the airport property without special Transportation Security Administration badging.

“Bombardier continues to see strong demand for its aircraft services and wants to meet that demand by strategically adding jobs in key service centers throughout our network,” said Gary Martin, a Bombardier vice president who made the joint announcement at a Commerce Authority meeting in Phoenix.

“The Tucson facility is—and will continue to be—an important part of our service center network, especially as our fleet expands and new products enter service,” Martin said. “The facility has the capacity to expand as required and could create additional jobs in the future.”

The new Bombardier jobs will be comprised of airplane mechanics, production-line workers and other highly-skilled technical positions.

Originally opened in 1976 as a Learjet aircraft production and services facility, the Tucson site employed 150 specialists and engineers. Bombardier acquired the facility in 1990, and soon after expanded to include aircraft completions.

Bombardier ranks 68th in the Star 200 survey of major employers in Southern Arizona, with 631 full-time employee equivalents at the start of this year.

The company ranked as high as 18th in 2002, when it had more than 2,000 employees working at an aircraft completion center and service operations here.

But subsequent layoffs and a decision in 2003 to move the completion operations to Wichita, Kan., shrunk its workforce to about 600 by 2006.

Also joining in today’s announcement was Gov. Jan Brewer; Don Cardon, CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority and Paul Bonavia, CEO of UniSource Energy Corp. and Tucson Electric Power Co. and chairman of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Inc. (TREO).

Read more of this story as it develops, on StarNet and in the Arizona Daily Star.