Topeka Gov. Sam Brownback says he's disappointed in Boeing Co.'s decision to close its Wichita plant despite efforts by what he calls "Team Kansas" to help the company in recent years.
Brownback said Wednesday that Kansas officials fought hard to help Boeing land a $35 billion Air Force refueling tanker contract.
Kansas officials were told by Boeing that winning the contract would create some 7,500 direct and indirect jobs in the Wichita area, with an economic impact of more than $300 million. Brownback said he spoke recently with Boeing about staying in Kansas.
Boeing's decision to close its Wichita plant will cost the area more than more than 2,160 jobs.
The governor said growth opportunities in commercial aviation work at other Kansas companies might offset the Boeing job losses.
Brownback's full statement:
“No one worked harder for the success of the Boeing Company than Team Kansas -whose membership included the outstanding workforce, city and county officials, state legislators, governors, and the congressional delegation - and I have been pleased to do my part as a U.S. Senator for 14 years and as Governor during the last year. We have been there with the company through every battle, whether it was the 10 year tanker battle or securing funding for other key Boeing Defense programs vital to national security. Our team never wavered, always keeping its commitment to the success of the Boeing Company for the good of the state and of the nation.
“Today’s announcement on the phase out of Boeing’s presence in Wichita is very disappointing to all of us. We are deeply saddened Boeing Defense at the end of this transition period will no longer have operations in Kansas. Wichita has been at the company’s operations core since 1929 with the production of Kaydet Trainers and B-29 Bombers during WWII, B-47 & B-52 Bombers during the 1950’s & 60’s, modification of various airframes during the following years from tankers to Air Force One. The dedication and hard work of generations of Kansans built the success the Boeing Company enjoys today.
“The bottom line for Kansas is jobs. During this time of transition, my Administration will work with Team Kansas to aggressively pursue the booming commercial opportunities that exist with both Boeing and Airbus. Wichita still has world-class facilities and best trained workforce in the aviation industry which makes us the best place in the world to build airplanes. The city is strategically positioned to capture additional work packages from Boeing, Airbus and other groups in the rapidly expanding commercial side of the aviation business which is in a growth pattern.
“My Administration and the delegation will work with all of those impacted by this transition from a defense focus to the growing commercial market to make it as smooth as possible. With any change, there comes uncertainty and issues and questions that can’t be answered at the beginning of the process, but we are committed to working together as Kansans have always done to address these issues going forward.”