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BOEING TO CLOSE WICHITA PLANT BY 2013 Social service agencies say they also stand to lose in Boeing move

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012, at 5:47 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, April 10, 2014, at 6:12 a.m.

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Are you a Boeing employee? Let us know what you think of today’s decision. Contact Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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— Boeing’s move from Wichita also looks to take funding away from the social service agencies that aircraft employees facing layoffs will turn to for help.

Pat Hanrahan, president of United Way of the Plains, said the agency that funds family service and self-sufficiency programs throughout the Wichita area stands to lose more than $500,000 a year, which had been raised by Boeing workers.

Those 2,160 employees will be gone, after Boeing announced today that it is moving those jobs to Oklahoma, Texas and Washington. By the end of the year, many of those workers will be looking for help from the agencies they once helped support.

“It’s the old double-whammy,” Hanrahan said. “And that doesn’t count the contributions from the trickle-down effect from subcontractors and their workers. We don’t know the full impact yet.”

Boeing’s giving to United Way compared to that of Bombardier Learjet, Cargill, the city of Wichita, Davis-Moore Auto Group, Intrust Bank, Koch Industries, QuikTrip, Wichita public schools, Via Christi Health and Westar Energy. The United Way raised $15.2 million last year to fund 80 programs at 37 charitable organizations in Sedgwick and Butler counties.

The United Way contributes to a third of the operating budget for the American Red Cross Midway-Kansas Chapter, which expects to see increases in requests for its family services, such as aid for rent, utilities, groceries and gas.

“The thing that makes the biggest difference is those financial donations,” said Bev Morlan, executive director for the Red Cross chapter. “It allows us to direct those resources in the way families need it most, such as help with utilities or buying gas to drive to look for a job.”

Time may be one factor on Wichita’s side.

“The good news is this happened at the best time of year for us,” Hanrahan said. “Our fundraising drive starts in September so we have eight months to plan for this.”

Layoffs aren’t scheduled to begin until the second half of this year.

The Red Cross is hoping to have a plan in place to help the first families affected by the losses, Morlan said, making sure they have enough staff and volunteers to answer phones and be ready to refer people to the proper programs to help them.

She’s confident the money will be raised.

“We are Midwesterners and we step in to help each other when we need it,” Morlan said.

Officials from the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas are planning a conference call Thursday morning with the Kansas Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Labor to begin planning its response. The alliance is the local nonprofit that oversees federal employment training funds.

The Boeing plant is set to close at the end of 2013.

“Because of the two-year transition period, our operations won’t take effect until the first layoffs begin,” said Kim Cronister, public information director for the alliance. “We’re working to coordinate our efforts so we’ll be ready to jump in.”

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