Oklahoma City Aerospace: It’s our business

Article courtesy of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber

In Oklahoma City, aerospace is not an upstart industry or a hope for the future. Aviation is in our DNA. Since Wiley Post, a native Oklahoman, made history with the first solo flight around the world in 1933, Oklahoma has been on the cutting edge of aviation.

The numbers speak for themselves: with more than 300 public- and private-sector aviation and aerospace firms in OKC, the industry directly or indirectly supports more than 85,400 workers and the production of $7.3 billion in goods and services. On a state level, aviation is Oklahoma’s No. 1 foreign export and accounts for a staggering 10 percent of our state’s economy. Oklahoma is one of the top 10 states in traditional aerospace employment.

The story of aerospace in Oklahoma City is more than raw numbers and size. The story of aerospace in Oklahoma City is also about diversity.

The biggest names in aerospace have operations in Oklahoma City including Boeing Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin Aircraft, Northrop Grumman, General Electric Aviation and AAR Aircraft Services. Oklahoma City is also home to Will Rogers World Airport and the Mike Monroney FAA Center, the principal source of all FAA training and a nerve center for the nation’s air transportation system.

More and more aviation companies are starting to see the advantage Oklahoma City can give their company. In fact, over the past two years Boeing Aerospace has announced they will relocate more than 1,450 jobs from around the country to Oklahoma City and build a new $40 million complex.

The heart of aerospace in the region is Tinker Air Force Base and the men and women who complete the missions assigned to the base. Tinker is the largest single-site employer in the state and contributes more than $3 billion to the local economy annually.

Since 1941, when the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber spearheaded the donation of the first 1,440 acres for the base, Tinker and Oklahoma City have supported each other.

In recent years, several new state of-the-art facilities have come to fruition, demonstrating once again the incredible partnership among officials, citizens and corporations statewide.

The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker is the nation’s largest aircraft and jet engine repair center. All U.S. Air Force engines are repaired at the ALC. It is also the primary maintenance center for bombers, refuelers and reconnaissance aircraft including the E-3 AWACS, C/KC-135, KC- 10, B-1, B-2 and B-52.

The 2.5-million-square-foot Tinker Aerospace Complex is a former General Motors plant that now houses some of the 76th Maintenance Wing operations and other Department of Defense (DOD) workloads. The complex, considered the most advanced aviation and aerospace manufacturing and production facility in the world, is the result of a $54-million bond issue passed by voters and more than $50 million in renovations by the Air Force. Best of all, space in the Tinker Aerospace Complex is available to private companies working on DOD projects, improving efficiency and creating synergy with their public partners.

The hub of Oklahoma City’s aviation industry is Will Rogers World Airport – with approximately 10,000 employees and 67 tenants, including the Federal Transfer Center, ARINC, Metro Tech Aviation Career Center and Southwest Airlines Reservation Center – as well as Oklahoma City’s Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ).

A recent $110-million renovation nearly doubled the size of the terminal, expanding and updating amenities to make traveling as effortless and enjoyable as possible for the 3.7 million passengers it serves every year.

Whether it is Tinker Air Force Base, the state’s largest single-site employer, or Pro-Fab, an emerging company that specializes in producing complex and difficult-to- machine aerospace parts, Oklahoma City’s aerospace sector is as varied as it is large. In Oklahoma City, aviation is our business.

RAISING A WORKFORCE

Workforce is what ultimately drives company prosperity, innovation and profitability. With a variety of available educational institutions and training programs, workers in Oklahoma City have the skills necessary to make aerospace operations a success.

Strong partnerships between education and training facilities have helped build and prepare a highly proficient workforce. Both the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University offer a wide range of diverse degree programs in aviation, while Oklahoma City’s Metro Technology Centers’ acclaimed Aviation Career Campus offers some of the best aviation training on the CareerTech level in the country.

In addition, Oklahoma’s Aerospace Engineer Workforce tax credit benefits companies who hire graduates of Oklahoma institutions, creating a win- win for industry and workforce.

Source: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber

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