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Brownback says state will ‘fight hard’ to keep Boeing in Wichita

  • Eagle Topeka bureau
  • Published Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011, at 3:26 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011, at 4:48 p.m.

— Gov. Sam Brownback said he and the state’s congressional delegation "will fight and fight hard" to keep Boeing in Wichita, and he said he would remind Boeing officials of the promises they made while he and others fought to secure a massive aerial refueling tanker contract.

"They were selected for the contract," Brownback told reporters at the Statehouse. "We’re going to hold the Boeing company to these words."

Brownback quoted from an April 30, 2010, Boeing news release that said employees at the Wichita site will play a role in building the tankers.

But what exactly the state can do to hold the company to that is unclear. Brownback said he and others have scheduled meetings with executives from Boeing. And he noted that Kansas has two members on the appropriations committee — Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, and Republican Sen. Jerry Moran — and that Boeing is a "major user of federal funds."

"I think (the appropriations members) would be concerned about that, particularly if they don’t meet their obligations," he said.

Brownback’s comments came a day after news broke that Boeing is studying its Wichita site, including whether to close it.

Brownback said Boeing probably wouldn’t have the tanker contract without efforts by the Kansas delegation, which he was a part of as a senator.

"I’m not saying that in any sort of holding-it-over-you fashion, but this delegation worked a long time to secure this, and there were other competitors for it," he said. "As a matter of fact, it was awarded to another competitor at one time and then the contract was flipped."

He said the Wichita workforce is "fabulous" for projects like the tankers.

"This is an excellent workforce that knows how to do this," he said. "And we’re going to push that we get the work and we get it here."

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