WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Textron CEO Ron Draper said this week the company will add up to 1,000 more jobs this year in addition to the roughly 1,000 added last year.
The news has a Wichita task force scrambling to find workers.
“This is a good problem to have,” said Andrew Wiens, Government Relations Director with the Wichita Regional Chamber.
Wiens is part of a the Advanced Manufacturing Talent Task Force in Wichita. The group is looking for workers.
“It used to be the focus was on how do we get more jobs into our city?” said Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell. “Now what keeps me up at night is making sure that we have the skilled workforce to fill all of these jobs.”
Mayor Longwell says it’s a good problem to have. He applauds efforts by WSU Tech at training workers specifically for the aviation industry.
But some say good help can be hard to find in a business that has seen Spirit add more than 2,000 workers recently.
“This is going to have to be a regional effort,” said Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell. “We will pull workers from other markets.”
Textron Human Resources Senior Vice President Maggie Topping says they are seeing strong demand for their jets.
“Right now, we have, obviously, positive tailwind for the first time in a decade,” said Topping of mid-size jet demand. “It’s really been driven by new product innovation and consumer confidence.”
Topping points to strong interest in the Textron Latitude line of jets.
Aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Aviation group says this could be a positive change in an industry where smaller jet sales have been a challenge.
“It’s been almost a lost decade. A lot of false starts and really no signs of traction,” said Aboulafia. “But this certainly looks like the most encouraging set of numbers we’ve seen in quite a while. So hopefully, this is the start of something good.”
Wiens says they are working hard at finding new workers to come live in Wichita. But, he adds, the city is an easy sell right now.
“It’s crazy how much things have changed in the past five years, and you see it with the community pride,” said Wiens. “We’ve got baseball on the way with a new stadium. The Riverfront master plan, Crossgate District, Aqua Splash Park opening soon. But when you get down to it, we have jobs and these are good jobs.”
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