WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita City Council on Tuesday approved a five-year letter of intent for $527 million in industrial revenue bonds (IRBs) for Textron Aviation. The vote was 7-0.

Textron builds, sells and services aircraft for Cessna and Beechcraft and has three campuses in Wichita.

The bonds would help Textron with entrance improvements, create a training center and build a larger parts and distribution center.

“The bonds are a transaction that is utilized to provide a sales tax exemption on anything that they would acquire that would be subject to sales tax exemption. That could be parts for building buildings. That could also be on any of the machinery or equipment, furniture and fixtures that they would be acquiring that would be subject to a sales tax,” said Tim Goodpasture, City of Wichita economic development analyst.

Textron employs approximately 9,300 people in the Wichita area, and the company projects adding as many as 500 new jobs.

“They’re doubling their parts facility here in Wichita,” Wichita City Council member Jeff Blubaugh said. “Seeing that they’re putting that investment here in Wichita to support a fleet that’s worldwide, this really puts the exclamation point that Textron is here in Wichita and here to stay.”

“They’ve been pretty successful at matching past employment projections,” Wichita City Council member Mike Hoheisel said. “We do have an opportunity after five years to reassess how far they’ve come along as far as the project and the parameters of getting the IRBs.”

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple says a shift within the aerospace industry to diversify its portfolio could help secure these jobs in the long run as a recession looms.

“I think the pandemic gave us a chance to pivot, but also the grounding of the Max really woke people up in this industry that, you know, we can’t rely on one or two products,” Mayor Whipple said. “Our aerospace economy has actually done a really good job diversifying into both private and public sectors so they can take on these defense contracts.”

“They’re securing contracts years in advance,” Wichita City Council member Bryan Frye said. “They have a pipeline. It’s a very strong pipeline, and they’re continuing to see demand all over the world for their product, so I have comfort that this particular bump right now can be weathered.”

Also, the Council approved selling a piece of property northwest of the Hyatt located in the 400 block of W. Waterman for $217,440. The vote was 7-0.

The Hyatt wants to expand the hotel to extend the meeting, restaurant and exhibition spaces to support convention business.

Proceeds from the sale will be used for improvements to the river and A. Price Woodard Park.

The Council voted 7-0 to pass a new three-year contract for firefighters. The contract runs from 2023 to 2025 and covers just over 450 employees.

The Wichita Firefighters IAFF Local 135 approved the contract in November, which includes pay increases and adds another holiday.

City staff reviewed the contract and recommended that council members approve it.