Spirit Aerosystems Opens New Plant In Chanute

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spirit Aerosystems is based in Wichita, but now it’s branching out and finding ways to grow jobs in other areas across Kansas.

Today, Spirit celebrated the grand opening of its new plant in Chanute – a plant that will help the company meet the growing demand for its products.

Spirit Aerosystems is citing increasing airplane production rates for its expansion into the facility in Chanute. Folks there are just happy to have the news jobs.

A great day in Chanute, says Governor Sam Brownback, because Spirit Aerosystems’ new plant brings much welcomed aviation parts manufacturing jobs.

Jeanette Hegwald, a Spirit Aerosystems Chanute employee, says, "Well, my husband and I both worked at a factory in Lola, Kansas that, after 27 years we worked there, shut down and moved to Mexico. And we were both fortunate to get a job here together again."

Custom cabinetry used to be made in the 55,000 square foot facility. Now, employees like Brent Wright are making small, sub-assembly parts for the Boeing 737. The parts are trucked to Wichita for assembly.

"Just real glad to be part of the opening crew here and have a lot of forward momentum and chances for upward mobility," says Brent Wright, Spirit Aerosystems Chanute employee.

Spirit CEO Jeff Turner says the company had the choice to outsource the work to suppliers or, for the first time, open a shop like this.

Turner says, "We see strong demand for our products. And we need to continue to expand both our internal and external supply chains so we can meet that demand."

Turner says expanding helps free up room in Wichita for larger assembly work the company needs. He also said that Chanute won a competition for the plant several other Kansas communities also competed for. Spirit receives incentives from both the local and state level to set up shop in Chanute, which is something the Governor says is worth it.

"We need to move forward as a manufacturing state. We're an excellent manufacturing state and we're growing in manufacturing," says Governor Brownback.

Spirit in Chanute has 16 employees now but plans to expand that in phases to 125-150 over the next several years.

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