Kansas Governor Sam Brownback held an economic summit with a focus on aviation last Monday at the National Center for Aviation Training in, appropriately enough, Wichita, the "Air Capitol of the World". While on the campaign trail, the governor said one of his top priorities was to grow jobs in Kansas and the discussion certainly was wrapped around how to do that in the aviation sector.
The summit —"Kansas Aviation: Soaring into the Future" — was attended by about 160 leaders from large and small aviation companies, the state’s colleges and universities, unions, and local and state government.
The governor and aviation leaders gave prepared remarks to open the summit, which was followed by a roundtable discussion of issues affecting the industry and a question-and-answer session. Governor Brownback asked aviation leaders for input on what the state’s role should be.
Business leaders urged the governor to work towards job training and incentives to help get their industry back on track.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, M.D, said that he and the governor were committed to fostering a climate of innovation through state policies that allow Kansas aviation companies to succeed. Not including certain military activity, aviation accounts for $20 billion in total economic impact to the state’s economy.
Kansas has a long, storied history in aviation manufacturing. Major aircraft manufacturers in Wichita include Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems, Cessna, Learjet and Hawker Beechcraft and according to Commerce Secretary Pat George, there are also more than 200 other companies throughout Kansas that serve the industry in one form or another.
Some business leaders said that the state must continue to fund research and training, have a stable tax environment, and get engineers graduating from colleges in Kansas to stay in Kansas.
The governor said that the thoughts and ideas that come out of this summit will be the guiding principles for improving the business climate in Kansas so aviation-related businesses can grow and prosper.
In a news release following the summit, Governor Brownback said Kansas needs to adopt a more favorable tax policy and end unnecessary or non-essential regulations to grow the aviation industry in the state. He acknowledged that was one of the main messages delivered to state officials at the event. (Pictured at right are from left, Kansas DOT Aviation staff, George Laliberte, Jesse Romo and director, Ed Young. Photos Courtesy of Kansas DOT)