SINGAPORE: Seletar Aerospace Park, which houses more than 60 aerospace companies, including multi-national corporations (MNCs) and local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), aims to create more than 10,000 jobs by 2018.
As the 320-hectare industrial park becomes home to more employees, new developments are being planned to bond the community, said its developer JTC Corporation.
For example, a cluster of 32 colonial bungalows within the park – which once housed officers from Britain's Royal Air Force before World War II – will be redeveloped into restaurants, spas, and sports facilities.
The black-and-white bungalows, which were gazette for conservation, will become the epicentre of the park's community.
"The ecosystem is becoming more sophisticated, companies are working together more so we think that the next stage of growth besides catering for the infrastructure and facilities is really to put in place programmes that will bring the community together because we think that this connection of like-minded companies will bring about more partnerships, more collaboration and more innovation," said Alvin Tan, Assistant CEO of JTC.
There are also plans for a playground and a boardwalk that fronts the runway, where the public will be able to take a leisurely stroll while watching planes take off and land.
"We are also organising the events that will bring the community together. This ranges from sports activities like boxercise, we intend to do things like yoga classes and different interest groups have come forward to say they want to do running groups and cycling groups and so on so forth,” said Mr Tan.
“We are very encouraged by that and we think that this will bring about a greater interest and foster a sense of community in that place."
Lim Hee Joo, whose precision engineering firm moved from Loyang to Seletar Aerospace Park last July welcomed the new plans.
"It gives an added dimension of 'kampong spirit', something that you can’t find in other industrial estate(s) that makes people naturally inclined to do things together to make this a better place to live in," said Ms Lim, who is Executive Director at Wah Son Engineering, which provides engine rigs to companies like Rolls Royce.
Ms Lim said the clustering of aerospace-related operations in Seletar fosters a sense of identity and camaraderie, and this is something that was missing from bigger, more diverse estates like Loyang.
She also noted that the clustering enabled smaller companies like hers to thrive, and reap the synergies from being in an integrated environment.
“We have customers in the neighbourhood whom we can reach in five minutes. So in terms of efficiency, we can't really beat that speed. In terms of economies of scale, we can pull resources together. For example, with our closest neighbours here, we sometimes share equipment like a boom lift or some consumables that we’ve run out of stock," said Ms Lim.
She added: “We understand what each other is doing, and we also could appreciate the challenges that every one of us feel. The areas of collaboration we can potentially go into can range from technology development, some R&D activities, down to even little things like how to make this space more community driven and a much more conducive workspace for everyone in the neighbourhood."
To date, an estimated 5,000 people work in the park - either out of their own facilities or shared premises built by JTC.
Mr Tan explained: “The objective is to have a rich and deep ecosystem of like-minded companies together. And this ecosystem provides tremendous benefits. Firstly, it allows collaboration and networking to take place. Second, it supports and enables SMEs to grow alongside MNCs."
In line with this spirit, human resource leaders from companies in the park have rallied together to groom the next generation of industry talent.
A new internship programme was launched in February this year for ITE students.
About 100 positions will be made available each year, in areas such as avionics system maintenance and aerospace component machining.
Built at a cost of S$60 million, works to develop the Seletar Aerospace Park first began in 2008.