In the News

Wichita Business Journal
Daniel McCoy

A group of elected officials, general aviation executives and stakeholders joined forces on Friday at Garmin International in Olathe to promote the industry and the jobs it creates. 

It was yet another example, said U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran at the event hosted by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, of the collective power of one of Kansas' most important economic drivers.

“Today as we celebrate general aviation – our state’s largest industry – I am proud to reflect on the successes we have had in working together to protect and strengthen this industry, particularly in defeating proposals to privatize our nation’s air traffic control system," Moran said, according to a recap of the event from GAMA. "Such policies would have greatly diminished general aviation’s ability to create jobs and generate economic growth, and I am thankful for the support of Kansas aviation workers and businesses who helped us achieve real success in Washington, D.C.”

Moran was joined at the event by U.S. Congressman Ron Estes; Kansas Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann; and Olathe mayor Michael Copeland. 

Other industry speakers included David Coleal, president of Bombardier Business Aircraft and former site leader of Bombardier’s Wichita facility; Doug May, vice president of piston aircraft at Wichita-based Textron Aviation.; Lynn Nichols, CEO of Yingling Aviation in Wichita; Cliff Pemble, CEO of Garmin International; Phil Straub, managing director and executive vice president of Garmin Aviation; and Pete Bunce, CEO of GAMA. 

It was the 16th rally that GAMA has hosted since 2009. 

The speakers took the opportunity to highlight the general aviation industry’s importance to Kansas, with Lt. Gov. Mann noting that it supports 90,000 jobs.

Beyond just those workers, Copeland, the mayor of Olathe, pointed to an even greater impact from the industry on communities like his that surround it. 

“They are critically involved in our neighborhoods, schools, and places of worship, quietly making an immeasurable difference,” he said. 

And, added Bunce of GAMA, with the support of leaders like those gathered on Friday in Olathe, the industry is well positioned for the years to come. 

“The broad support we see today from our elected officials, who span federal, state and local levels, along with the support from our industry leaders and our talented workforce gives me great confidence about this industry’s future,” Bunce said. 

But the industry is also facing a critical juncture in Wichita and beyond as it looks for the workforce it will need to help it maintain all those positive impacts and meet its own growing demand within the aerospace sector.

And that means, said Yingling's Nichols, that stakeholders like those who came together Friday must continue to work together.

“It is imperative that all of our efforts in talent search, employer retention and expansion and workforce development are collaborative with a unified strategy between the private sector, the cities, the counties and the state in order to have maximum impact and benefit,” he said.

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