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British company coming to Suffolk

An England-based company that manufactures aviation test equipment is opening its first U.S. office in Suffolk.

BCF Designs Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of the BCF Designs Limited in Cirencester, England, will move into an 1800-square-fot office in Harbour Breeze Professional Center in February 2006. The company’s Suffolk location will serve as its customer service center, business development and repair site, said Ian Townsend, the company’s vice president of engineering. The company initially will hire six people.

BCF Designs produces aviation test equipment, including fuel system tests, filter tests sets and digital avionics protocol testers, which are primarily used by the military.

The company decided to open a U.S. facility after it signed a contract with the U.S. Navy that required it have a presence in this country, Townsend said.

“We knew we wanted to locate on the East Coast, and we decided on the Hampton Roads region about a year ago,” said

Townsend. “This area fits in with the way we want to develop our business, provides a strategic location, and gives us great positioning with the Navy. “From here, we can also begin to pursue the U.S. Army and Air Force markets.”

BCF Designs narrowed its focus to southeastern Virginia after meeting with the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance’s United Kingdom marketing consultant in 2004, said HREDA President Jones Hooks.

“Europe continues to be an important market for recruiting international business to Hampton Roads,” Hooks said. “BCF is another example of our successful international marketing strategies that will continue into 2006.”

Hampton Roads is home to 182 international companies, with seven of them in Suffolk, said BCF Designs HREDA Chairman Franklin R. Bowers.

Tom O’Grady, the city’s director of economic development, expects international companies will continue gravitating toward Suffolk in the coming years.

“There is a big push to bring more international companies to the region and we expect Suffolk will be beneficiary to some of them,” he said.

Suffolk Mayor Bobby Ralph agreed, noting in a press release that BCF’s decision to locate here shows how the city and region is becoming a hub for high-tech, defense-related businesses.