Honeywell Aerospace is expected to close its Wichita facility and move its jobs to Olathe.
A Honeywell spokesman confirmed Friday that the company is centralizing its repair and overhaul operations and will move jobs from Wichita and Renton, Washington to Olathe.
“We own the facility. It’s centrally located. It’s got the ability to handle the additional work,” Honeywell spokesman Scott Sayres said.
Honeywell will move the Wichita operation to Olathe by the end of this year and the Renton operation over the next 18 months, Sayres said.
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Sayres declined to say how many jobs are involved, but Olathe Chamber of Commerce CEO Tim McKee said Friday it was his understanding that it’s “hundreds of jobs.”
The Wichita Business Journal reported that about 175 employees are affected by the closure of that operation near Wichita Eisenhower National Airport. The Kansas City Business Journal reported that the Olathe facility currently has about 550 employees, down from about 1,000 in 2008. The number of jobs moving from Washington state was not available.
Regarding the Wichita move to Olathe, Sayres said in a statement, “This is not a decision we made lightly as we realize this, unfortunately, affects valued employees. We’ve provided employees with extensive notice and are also posting roles in Olathe, many of which include potential relocation assistance.”
Andrew Nave, executive vice president of economic development at the Greater Wichita Partnership, said in an emailed statement that it is “always disappointing news to lose a corporate citizen but in this case our understanding is that Olathe was selected for the consolidation primarily for operational reasons and had nothing to with Wichita or our great workforce.
“We were glad to hear that the company is staying in Kansas and offering outplacement services for employees. With our aviation cluster growing, those employees will certainly be highly sought-after.”
McKee, of the Olathe Chamber, said the moves help “us solidify that Olathe is going to be an aviation hub for Honeywell.”
The Kansas PEAK program, which provides state tax incentives for companies that expand business operations in Kansas, was offered for 119 net new jobs coming from out of state, according to Susan NeuPoth Cadoret, division director at the Kansas Commerce Department. Additional information on those incentives was not immediately available.
The Olathe facility was built in 1998 as an aviation headquarters for AlliedSignal, which acquired Honeywell in 1999 and took the Honeywell name. It handles maintenance and refurbishment of aviation equipment and electronics and manufactures safety and flight control systems, including the so-called “black box” flight data and voice recorders.
It is a massive facility, designed for a large workforce that has never quite materialized, McKee said, so it has excess capacity.
McKee said it was his understanding that the jobs are coming to Olathe in part because of the area’s strong labor force and lower cost of doing business.
Contributing: Jason Tidd of The Eagle