Spirit breaks ground for $1 billion expansion, new jobs
Spirit AeroSystems plans to add 320 new jobs as part of the construction of a new building at Air Capital Flight Line in south Wichita.
The new jobs are part of an $18 million industrial revenue bond request from Air Capital that the Wichita City Council approved Tuesday. The bonds are essentially low-interest loans that companies have to repay. They are used for capital improvement projects.
Air Capital was created by developers Johnny Stevens and Dave Murfin after they bought the Boeing Wichita property on south Oliver in 2014.
Air Capital is located directly across Oliver Street from Spirit’s Wichita facilities.
The developers sought a 100 percent tax abatement for five years with an option to extend that an additional five years, according to city documents. The abatement is for an exemption from property taxes on the new building and sales taxes on the materials to build and equip it, said Tim Goodpasture, the city’s economic development analyst, at the council meeting.
The documents said Spirit is committing to lease the new building at Air Capital and to add the new jobs that would have an average annual wage of $54,500. Those new jobs are in addition to the 1,000 it committed to hiring nearly a year ago, according to the documents.
Those documents said Spirit would add 100 new jobs with the new Air Capital building. But Goodpasture told the council Tuesday morning that Spirit had revised the jobs estimate to more than three times the earlier number.
Spirit spokesman Fred Malley said in an e-mail on Tuesday the 100 jobs was a “preliminary estimate that only included a limited number of the new jobs being created.”
“We continue to see a need for highly skilled employees over the next several years to fill demand for production rates.”
The Air Capital building will be for manufacturing, and the new jobs will be in manufacturing or to support manufacturing.
The new building is in addition to a slightly larger one that Spirit has under construction.
That 150,000-square-foot building, the seven-story Global Digital Logistics Center, will house and distribute parts Spirit uses as well as provide room for a “center of excellence in material cutting.” It’s located just north of Spirit’s plant on the west side of Oliver.
In a separate action, the council also unanimously approved up to $55 million in IRBs for Spirit as part of its “annual bond request,” Mayor Jeff Longwell said.
The bonds will help Spirit with the purchase of new chillers, cranes, roads and other improvements to its plant, Goodpasture said.
“There’s no better quality of life investment than giving someone a job,” said City Councilman James Clendenin before the passage of the Spirit IRBs.
Spirit is a manufacturer of parts and aerostructures for aircraft manufacturers including Airbus and Boeing. It employs 10,940 people in Wichita.