Today’s announcement that the Boeing Company would pull out of Wichita by the end of 2013 was a harsh message for our community.
The loss of 2,100 jobs will deal a severe blow to our local economy, and I offer my deepest condolences to the families who will be directly affected by this development.
Although it is difficult to see anything positive in this announcement, we still have reason to be optimistic for our community’s future.
Wichita is still the Air Capital of the World, and the home to the highest qualified cadre of aviation workers. Boeing’s decision was Boeing’s to make, but we still hold the keys to our own future.
General aviation is showing signs of a rebound from the past few years of economic downturn. We are also optimistic about the future of commercial aviation manufacturing in south-central Kansas.
Our first action will be to call our community partners together to launch an aggressive campaign of job recruitment and retention. We will leave no stone unturned as we seek an expansion of our existing aviation cluster, as well as developing a diversified economic foundation in areas such as health care, energy and technology.
We will make specific overtures to companies such as AirBus, who have secured a foothold in our local economy and offer an opportunity for more high-skill, high-wage jobs in the future.
We are encouraged by recent announcements about the production of the LearJet 85 at Mid-Continent Airport and the creation of an Engineering Excellence Center. The continued success of the National Center for Aviation Training and the National Institute for Aviation Research will preserve our unique place as the leading aviation manufacturing community in the nation.
Our disappointment in Boeing’s decision to abandon its 80-year relationship with Wichita and the State of Kansas will not diminish any time soon. The City of Wichita, Sedgwick County and the State of Kansas have invested far too many taxpayer dollars in the past development of the Boeing Company to take this announcement lightly.
But the optimism and progressive attitude of our community will persevere, and we expect to far exceed the expectations we may have had before this unfortunate announcement.