Kansas Common Sense
Jan 05 2012
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” I send you my best wishes for the year ahead and wish you a very Happy New Year. Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them.
Kansans Troubled by Boeing’s Announcement to Close Wichita Facility
I join Kansans across the state who are disappointed and outraged by Wednesday’s announcement by Boeing that they will be closing their Wichita defense facility over the next two years. This decision leaves the future in jeopardy for the 2,160 Wichita employees and their families.
As recently as 10 months ago, I joined these workers and local and state officials in Wichita to celebrate Boeing’s victory in the tanker competition. During the competition for the contract, Boeing pledged that a win would bring approximately 7,500 jobs to Kansas, including hundreds of Boeing jobs associated with the finishing work on the new tankers. It is hard to believe that conditions would have changed so rapidly over the past few months to bring about the decision to not only move the tanker finishing work elsewhere, but to also close down the entire facility. The company's refusal to honor its commitment to the people of Kansas is greatly troubling to me and to thousands of Kansans who trusted that Boeing’s promise would be kept.
Since Boeing officials announced in November that they were studying the future of the Wichita site, I have urged Boeing leadership to meet with state and local officials to discuss alternatives to the closure of its facility. To my dismay, Boeing’s senior leadership chose not to meet with local Wichita officials or even give them a serious opportunity to work together on a different plan for the future.
A company so much a part of the Wichita community for 80 years should not make this decision lightly. I have strongly urged Boeing’s senior leaders to reconsider this decision that will have a devastating impact on hundreds of Kansas families. Boeing has been a vital part of our community for many years and we want them to remain in Wichita for many years to come. In the days ahead, I will work with Governor Brownback and state and local officials to create opportunities to strengthen the Wichita economy.
Hosting 105th Town Hall Meeting
On Saturday, I completed my first statewide listening tour to all 105 counties across Kansas. My final stop was in my hometown of Hays at the K-State Ag Research Center. I enjoyed the opportunity to visit with many local residents and friends about a wide range of topics: overhauling the federal tax code, the U.S. Postal Service, expiration of energy tax credits, the defense authorization bill, policies put into place by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the federal deficit.
The work I do in Washington and the issues I focus on are largely based on the conversations I have with Kansans. I greatly appreciated the hundreds of Kansans who took the time to visit with me throughout the year because I learn something from every conversation I have. I am also grateful for the dozens of folks who graciously hosted a town hall meeting at their business, local restaurant or Chamber of Commerce. Thank you for your warm hospitality and for providing a place where I could meet with local Kansans to hear their thoughts and concerns.
Meeting with Gary Fish of Fishnet Security
On Wednesday morning I had the privilege of meeting with Gary Fish, CEO of Fishnet Security. Fishnet Security is a firm that focuses on IT security and they have a great story to tell. Gary started working for several Kansas City-based companies in IT security after moving to Kansas City, Missouri from Illinois. Shortly thereafter, he recognized there was a great need in the market for IT security services. So he took a chance, created his own company and has seen tremendous success—a great American success story.
Perhaps most importantly, Fishnet Security is moving their operations to Overland Park in 2012 and they are bringing nearly 200 well-paying jobs with them. I enjoyed my conversation with Gary and am grateful he will be setting up shop in Kansas. Kansas City is developing quite a niche for IT firms; it is an industry I hope we continue to see growing.
Visiting MMC Contractors
Later that day, I visited with the employee-owners of MMC Contractors. They are busy with several major construction projects across the county, including the Hollywood Casino at the Kansas Speedway and the new practice facility for the men’s and women’s K-State basketball teams. After decades of being owned by one family, MMC recently transitioned to complete employee ownership and has experienced outstanding growth, even during the recent economic downturn. It was very evident during my visit that the employees greatly enjoy working for a company at which they are part owners. I wish them all the best in their future endeavors. Click here to view a photo from the meeting.
Visiting with Members of Louisburg Rotary
After my stops in Johnson County, I headed south to Miami County for lunch with members of the Louisburg Rotary at the Timbercreek Bar and Grill. The food and service were great and I enjoyed my conversations with my fellow Rotarians. During the meeting, I gave a brief update on the latest from Washington, D.C. and then took questions. Kansans continue to be fearful that Congress is not making the necessary reductions in spending to get our fiscal house in order. I could not agree more and will continue to advocate for changes to our country’s spending habits in the year ahead.
Thank you to Kiersten Allen, club president and local librarian, and the rest of the Rotarians for being so welcoming. I especially want to thank state Senator Pat Apple for taking the time to attend the lunch. I look forward to my next trip to Louisburg. Click here to view a photo from the meeting.
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,
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