Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Wichita's comparison to Detroit isn't that surprising. Both cities' primary industries are struggling but local leaders say that's where the comparisons stop.
The comparison was raised in a cover story by the aerospace industry magazine, "Aviation Week". A future for Wichita like today's Detroit is a serious and sobering notion given the dire straits Detroit is facing.
But as quickly as the Wichita/Detroit comparison is raised, it's shot down by some local leaders. "Unreal," Mayor Carl Brewer says. He says that although Wichita has laid off thousands of aviators in the past years, the percentages still do not come close to Detroit's employment woes.
There have been roughly 13 thousand layoffs the past year in Wichita. That has pushed the unemployment rate here to 9.7 percent. Bad? Yes, the worst seen here in years. But compared to Detroit...well...the Motor City's unemployment rate is almost 29 percent. That being said, Brewer says it pays to learn from other city's mistakes.
Local aircraft leaders say Wichita's leading industry must stay focused so it doesn't follow in the auto industry's path. Hawker Beechcraft Chairman and CEO Bill Boisture says we have the same recipe for becoming a Detroit if the aviation industry doesn't become more innovative and more efficient in its way of making planes.
Boisture adds that no one would like to see Wichita as the next Detroit.
No one. In the tough new economy financial lessons can be learned the hard way.