Chamber Of Commerce: Hawker Move Would Be "Devastating"

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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October 4, 2010

The question state lawmakers, business leaders, and aviation workers are asking this week, is whether Hawker Beechcraft will take an offer from Louisiana to move south. The move would cost Wichita thousands of jobs immediately, but local business leaders say the impact would reach far beyond that.

If Hawker does move to Louisiana, some employees say they have already made up their minds over whether they'll move along with the company.

"To Louisiana? Probably not," said one employee Monday afternoon.

"No, I wouldn't follow this place," said another employee leaving Hawker Monday.

So employees say, they would try to find another job, if Hawker left. But whether more jobs would be available in Wichita is questionable, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

"I think it's important for folks to understand, we wouldn't just be talking about the loss of 6,000 jobs just associated with Hawker Beechcraft," said the Wichita Chamber of Commerce Director of Government Relations Jason Watkins.

Because the Chamber says losing jobs at Hawker would cause a trickle-down effect, taking business away from all companies supporting Hawker and its employees. This includes everything from Hawker suppliers to local restaurants.

"It would have a devastating impact on our local economy," said Watkins.

That's why the Chamber is meeting with state lawmakers and union leaders, encouraging everyone to do everything they can to keep Hawker in Kansas. Because while the Chamber says it's used to Wichita aviation companies receiving offers from other states and countries, it says this situation is unprecedented.

"This is a full frontal attack, trying to pull every job with Hawker Beechcraft out of Kansas," said Watkins.

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