Kansas needs to adopt a more favorable tax policy and end unnecessary or non-essential regulations to grow the aviation industry in the state. That was one of the main messages delivered to state officials on Monday in Wichita by representatives from aviation manufacturing and aerospace businesses at Gov. Sam Brownback’s first Economic Summit. The summit, called “Kansas Aviation: Soaring into the Future,” also involved stakeholders from area colleges and universities, as well as community leaders.
“Through our joint efforts, we can ensure Kansas remains the premier location for the design and manufacture of general and business aviation aircraft, military trainer aircraft, and large commercial structures, as well as the modification and maintenance of military aircraft,” Brownback said. “The thoughts and ideas gathered from this summit will be the guiding principles for improving the business climate in our state so aviation-related businesses can grow and prosper.”
“Aviation is a critical economic engine of the Kansas economy,” said Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, M.D. “Governor Brownback and I are committed to fostering a climate of innovation through state policies that allow Kansas aviation companies to succeed.”
Kansas has a long, storied history in aviation manufacturing, and summit participants discussed ways to enhance the state's leadership position and keep Wichita the “Air Capital of the World.”
“We have major aircraft manufacturers in Wichita like Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems, Cessna, Learjet and Hawker Beechcraft, but we also have more than 200 other companies throughout Kansas that serve the industry in one form or another,” said Commerce Secretary Pat George. “Our foundation is strong, but we need to work on expanding the state’s reach and attracting more aviation business. We heard a lot of good ideas to do that here today.”
Tax and regulatory issues for the industry were a main discussion topic, and industry representatives urged state officials to continue their efforts on the federal level to reduce burdensome regulations, and promote more growth, especially supporting more aircraft exports and a more global approach. The No. 1 export product from Kansas is aircraft.
“Local airports in Kansas support nearly 48,000 jobs and produce more than $10 billion in economic activity,” said Transportation Secretary Deb Miller. “With that in mind, we have refocused the state’s aviation program to ensure that the investments we’re making in local airports have the maximum potential to spur growth. Bringing together the state’s most influential aviation leaders to leverage their energy and knowledge is a very good thing for economic growth in Kansas.”
“Governor Brownback truly wants to hear from aviation industry experts on how state government can best partner with them to create more Kansas jobs,” said Labor Secretary Karin Brownlee. “The aviation summit is a great opportunity to create an action plan to partner with our aviation companies to grow their bottom line and the Kansas economy.”
Other topics of discussion included continued funding to the National Center for Aviation Training, National Institute for Aviation Research and other education institutions centered on the industry. In addition, there was discussion on improving the environment for the Kansas supplier base so that companies can capture additional sourcing opportunities in both domestic and international markets.
Brownback is hosting a series of summits focused on growing the Kansas economy and creating jobs. His administration will develop ideas coming from the aviation summit into an action plan for the industry.
Anyone who wants to leave a comment or suggestion for improving the aviation industry in Kansas, can fill out a short from at KansasCommerce.com/KSAviationSummit.