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Ranzau questions incentive package for Hawker

A Sedgwick County commissioner questioned Tuesday whether Hawker Beechcraft would have left Kansas without a $45 million package of incentives.

Commissioner Richard Ranzau's comments came a day before commissioners will vote on the county's part of the deal. The county and city of Wichita propose to put in $5 million, or $2.5 million each. The state will put in $40 million.

During a general discussion about economic development, Ranzau said businesses should be able to operate without government's help. He also stressed that the deal with Hawker wouldn't create new jobs but retain existing jobs.

"I don't believe Hawker was prepared to leave," Ranzau said.

"I'm not prepared to call them a liar," said the county's community development director, Irene Hart.

Louisiana had tried to lure the plant last year. The company agreed to keep its headquarters, engineering, supply chain management, composite fuselage manufacturing, aircraft final assembly, flight testing and global customer service and support in Wichita.

Hawker communications and public affairs manager Nicole Alexander said the company had no comment Tuesday about Ranzau's remarks.

Commissioners are likely to pass the incentive; a majority of the board supports the deal put together for Hawker. But the discussion at their meeting at 9 a.m. today is likely to get heated.

Hawker has about 5,000 workers in Wichita, Alexander said.

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