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Archive for Thursday, January 5, 2012

Goodbye, Boeing

Members of the Kansas congressional delegation were able to help Boeing Co. land a major military contract, but they couldn’t keep the company and its new jobs in Kansas.

January 5, 2012

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Boeing’s decision to move its last operations out of Wichita is an economic blow that will reverberate throughout the state.

Company officials announced Wednesday that reductions in the federal defense budget would force it to close its defense plant in Wichita by the end of 2013, costing the city more than 2,100 jobs. The work being done in Wichita will be spread to other Boeing facilities in Texas, Oklahoma and Washington. Wichita officials said the closure would result in a loss of $1.5 billion in wages over 10 years.

The decision to move work on a new Air Force refueling tanker to Puget Sound, Wash., was especially hard for Kansas government officials to swallow. Sen. Jerry Moran and Sen. Pat Roberts both issued statements only minutes after Boeing’s announcement saying they were “outraged” (Moran) and “hugely disappointed” (Roberts) by Boeing’s announcement. The Kansas congressional delegation and top state officials had worked hard to help Boeing land the tanker project, a move the company had said would bring about 7,500 jobs to Kansas.

To the officials, Boeing’s decision to close the plant represents a broken promise to the state. Moran even called on Boeing to reconsider its decision and promised, “In the days ahead, I will continue to do all I can to encourage Boeing to fulfill their pledge to the Wichita community.”

Those are nice words, but Boeing’s announcement is a sad reminder that business is business and the aircraft company is going to do what is in its own best interests regardless of any nonbinding “pledge” to Wichita or Kansas.

Boeing’s exit will end an 80-year relationship with Wichita that began when the company bought the Stearman Aircraft Co in 1929. During World War II, the company employed more than 40,000 people, including many women, and churned out four bombers a day. Boeing sold its commercial aircraft operation in 2005 but retained 4,500 workers in its defense division. Layoffs have cut that number to the current 2,100.

The general aviation and military aircraft business have been a mainstay of the state’s economy for decades and earned Wichita the designation of “Air Capital of the World.” As Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer noted after Wednesday’s announcement, “… there is a lot of emotional and economic attachment tied to this.”

Brewer noted that the city had faced similar challenges before but would continue to support its other aircraft employers, including Spirit AeroSystems, which took over Boeing’s commercial operations in 2005.

Wichita and the rest of the state have no choice but to make the best of things, but Boeing’s exit will be a significant loss for Kansas.

Comments

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 3 months ago

This is what cuts to the federal budget will look like.

Teapublicans should be very pleased at this development.

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Gandalf 2 years, 3 months ago

Nobody has come up with the obvious answer yet. My guess is EviLsam worked in unison with gov hair to send those jobs to Texas. Just like the 120,000,000 in IT jobs he sent!

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Kendall Simmons 2 years, 3 months ago

Yet another example of the free market at work...which may explain why so many posters of a certain persuasion have been silent on this issue today.

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Ray Parker 2 years, 3 months ago

First, the Federal Reserve secretly bailed out many of the world’s banks, corporations, and governments, giving away $16 Trillion of our money (USA GDP is only $14.12 Trillion). The Federal Reserve likes to refer to these secret bailouts as an all-inclusive loan program, but virtually none of the money has been returned and it was loaned out at 0% interest. Then, Boeing says "So long, Kansas suckers." So, we will never get the tax money back, nor most of our lost jobs. Is this our punishment for going deep Red?

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overplayedhistory 2 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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vuduchyld 2 years, 3 months ago

Any estimate on how many NON-Boeing jobs are at risk?

You can't even drive around Wichita without seeing tons of little machine shops, small manufacturers...second-tier suppliers to Boeing. Seems like a lot of those small businesses and the jobs they provide are in some trouble, too.

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jmadison 2 years, 3 months ago

What to make of the Air Force excluding Beechcraft Hawker from the bidding for the new light attack aircraft and awarding the contract to Brazilian Embraer and Sierra Nevada Corp whose owner has been a leading contributor to Sen. Harry Reid?

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labmonkey 2 years, 3 months ago

I hope Boeing at least gives Kansas a reach-around.

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Godot 2 years, 3 months ago

Lawmakers should investigate if there was a quid-pro-quo between Boeing and the NLRB that resulted in the NLRB's sudden reversal on blocking Boeing's South Carolina plant, and the closing of the Kansas plant with the transfer of hundres of jobs to the all-union plant in Washington.

This reeks of high crimes and misdemeanors.

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