Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday came to Wichita to sign House Bill 2006, approving a $ 33 million-bond package of incentives for Cessna Aircraft Co. to build a plant for the new Citation Columbus in Wichita.
Sedgwick County Commissioners and other officials were at the ceremonial signing at Cessna´s headquarters.
Sebelius´ presence in Wichita to sign the legislation sends a strong message about the importance of the aviation industry in the state, says Tom Winters, county commission chairman.
"I think she wants to emphasize the importance of aviation to the state of Kansas," Winters says. "We here in southcentral Kansas know the value of aviation. I think she wants to signify that it is important to the entire state."
House Bill 2006 opens the door for more aviation business in the state, Winters says.
"I think there are other things that we will be learning about very soon," he says. " The aviation industry is doing very well... there´s just a lot of things going on."
Cessna, a subsidiary of Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT), says the plant will generate more than 1,000 direct jobs with an average pay of $ 74,000. Industry experts say at least 4,000 job will be created in total because of the local manufacturing of the new business jet. Winters says he believes there will even more jobs than that.
"I think that´s a very conservative number," he says.
Cessna has identified city-owned space between its main campus on Highway K-42 and its Citation Service Center on Hoover Road as the preferred Wichita location for the new plant.
During a joint meeting on April 15, the city and county commissioners unanimously approved at least $ 10 million in incentives for Cessna to build the Columbus in Wichita. The bill signed Tuesday is a part of a package approved by the Kansas Legislature. Preliminary plans call for the construction of more than 800,000 square feet of buildings, 14 acres of airfield pavement and employee and visitor parking lots. Some work will need to be done on the site, including bringing in 500,000 cubic yards of fill dirt. Under the new law, the bonds will be repaid from the withholding taxes Cessna collects from its new employees.