In an event hosted inside a large hangar at the Cessna manufacturing facility on Monday, state and local government officials and industry spokespeople showed their support of Wichita's ailing aviation businesses and its workers. More than 2,000 people attended the event, which was organized by GAMA in partnership with Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft and Bombardier Learjet. "We are appreciative that these national leaders have come to view the tremendous products built here in Wichita and meet thousands of Kansans who produce them," said Jack Pelton, chairman, president and CEO of Cessna Aircraft Company, who also spoke in support of the industry in a hearing in Washington last week called "Made in America: Increasing Jobs through Exports and Trade."
United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Gov. Sam Brownback, Sen. Jerry Moran and Congressman Mike Pompeo spoke to the crowd, each recognizing the importance of the general aviation industry, which contributes more than $7 billion to the Kansas economy annually. "I believe the industry's efforts are crucial to President Obama's goal of doubling exports within five years — just as they're essential to keeping America on trajectory toward economic recovery," LaHood said. "I will do everything I can when I get back to Washington to persuade President Obama to come out and thank you for all that you're doing."
In addition to Pelton, local manufacturers were represented by Bill Brown, Hawker Beechcraft's executive vice president of global operations, and David Coleal, vice president and general manager of Bombardier Learjet. The event concluded with a speech by Pete Bunce, president and CEO of GAMA. He said: "This industry is an economic engine of growth and needs to be promoted and nurtured by our elected officials at every opportunity. It is very important to general aviation that Sec. LaHood, Gov. Brownback, Sen. Moran, and Congressman Pompeo recognized GA's tremendous impact in Kansas."