Wichita Aviation Summit Focuses on the Future

Officials put focus on economic growth and worker retention

Government officials and business execs alike work to keep Wichita’s aviation industry alive and well. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and other officials convened with aviation business leaders on Monday to discuss the industry’s future in the state and explore ways to both keep and grow Wichita’s standing as one of the world’s leading aviation hubs.

Representatives from Wichita’s aircraft manufacturing plants, suppliers and service providers were among the 160 people gathered for the governor’s economic summit. They gave suggestions to state officials on many fronts, including their desire for greater state support of job training programs, a pro-business tax code and the elimination of unnecessary regulations.

Many business executives also brought up the desire for policies that allow more qualified foreign workers to remain in the state. According to Zulma Toro-Ramos, three quarters or more of all graduate engineering degrees at Wichita State University are awarded to foreign students, who often face significant hurdles when attempting to remain and work in the United States.

When discussing their reasoning, many executives emphasized how they are frequently approached by other states with compelling arguments for relocating their multi-million dollar businesses. They also highlighted the important role the aviation industry plays in other areas of the economy. According to David Coleal, a leading executive at Bombardier Learjet, every aviation job stimulates the formation of 3.6 jobs in other segments.

The Monday summit was the second largest aviation event held in Wichita within recent weeks, preceded just weeks before by a large GA rally that garnered thousands of attendees.