TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback said this morning that he is "deeply saddened" by Boeing’s decision to pull out of Wichita. But he said the state will aggressively pursue commercial aviation expansions and new commercial aviation business in Wichita with Boeing and Airbus.
"It is still the aviation capital of the world, which makes us the best place in the world to build an airplane," he said during a news conference at the statehouse. "That fact remains the same today, as it was yesterday and it will be tomorrow."
Commerce Secretary Pat George said he expects commercial aviation expansion announcements in the near future that could create as many — or more — jobs than the anticipated 2,160 job losses resulting from Boeing’s announcement today. He didn’t elaborate on the anticipated announcements.
"My daddy taught me don’t count that sale until the money hits the palm of your hand. So, that hasn’t happened," he said. "But if I were a betting guy, I would put all that I had on that these projects are going to happen. We have announcements that are anticipated over the next quarter that would be very close to exceeding (the losses)."
Brownback said that no one has worked harder than Kansas for the success of the Boeing.
"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," the governor said. "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."
Brownback said he has had numerous conversations with Boeing officials about the potential closure of the Wichita plant. But he said that as he and the company have been saying for years, defense-oriented aviation is declining while commercial work is on the upswing. Brownback declined to say whether the state made specific offers to retain Boeing Defense.