The Norman Transcript October 2, 2014 Boeing will bring approximately 900 new jobs to Oklahoma City as part of ongoing plan to remain competitive in the aerospace industry.
On Wednesday, the company formally announced the decision to shift its defense- and support-related positions away from Washington state to Oklahoma City and St. Louis, as well as Jacksonville, Fla., and Patuxent River, Md.
During a press conference, Steve Goo, site director for Boeing Oklahoma City, said the transition is expected to start at the end of the calendar year and could take up to three years to complete.
“Our market is facing terrific competitive pressures, and it requires tough decisions like we’ve rarely seen in the past,” Goo said. “If Boeing Defense, Space and Security is going to differentiate itself from its competitors, change is necessary, and that often leads to positive outcomes.
"In addition to the work our employees currently do in Oklahoma City, we are adding to our capabilities to further increase our engineering disciplines here in Oklahoma City.”
More than 2,000 employees could be affected. In a press release, Boeing said it will leverage its presence in Puget Sound to mitigate the impact of this decision on individual employees.
The company said it will provide assistance and resources for employees to help them throughout this transition, including job search resources, retirement seminars and career counseling services.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin joined Goo at the press conference and thanked Boeing for choosing Oklahoma, which is already home to more than 500 aerospace-related companies in Oklahoma. Collectively, Fallin said those business have a $12 billion impact on the state’s economy.
“Aerospace is very important to Oklahoma’s economy,” Fallin said. “We appreciate companies like Boeing and other aerospace companies that are here and the great contributions that they make in proving jobs and opportunities in generating revenue back into our economy as our economy continues to grow.”
In a press release, State Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said he also was pleased that Boeing recognized the value and benefit of bringing jobs to Oklahoma.
“The transfer of these jobs speaks strongly to our quality work force and business environment, but it is also a credit to the state’s leadership capability and potential in the defense industry,” Cole said.
Goo said the aerospace company took several factors into considerations before finalizing the move, which includes the cost of doing business, the work force availability and the proximity it will have with Tinker Air Force Base.
After shifting jobs twice from Long Beach, Calif., and Wichita, Kan., Goo said the company was keen on making the move to Oklahoma City for a third time.
“Being located right here across the street from our primary customer enables us to collaborate with them, resolve issues quickly because we can literally get in a car and be over there in a few minutes versus scheduling a flight and booking an airline ticket and being there in a couple of days.
“It makes a huge difference in our ability to rapidly respond to the needs of our customers,” Goo said.
Currently, Boeing supports the 552d Air Control Wing at Tinker Air Force Base, which is home to the Boeing E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System.
The company provides training and engineering services for aircraft support. The E-3 is one aircraft within a business unit known as Airborne Surveillance Command and Control (ASC2).
With this announcement, Goo said the design, development and program management work for the ASC2 business will be in Oklahoma City. The program will include the 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft, which is now operated by Australia, Turkey and the Republic of Korea.
Goo said the positions that will be relocated will primarily include engineering jobs, as well as lab technician and program management jobs. None of the positions will include aircraft mechanic jobs.
“We view that our role here is to support Tinker Air Force Base with the engineering and supplier management and program management support that they need to keep today’s aircraft relevant and reliable and safe to protect America in the long-term future,” Goo said.
The statewide economic impact has yet to be determined, but Fallin said Boeing’s expansion will have a tremendous impact in Oklahoma.
“The trickle-down effect of having 900 new jobs in the state of Oklahoma — or even having a major industry like the aerospace sector — is huge in our state,” she said. “Aerospace jobs typically pay twice the average of a regular job in the state of Oklahoma or even nationally.
"Aerospace jobs are good-paying jobs, which is what we have been hoping to grow and attract in our state.”