With more bleak national economic reports last week, it is reassuring that Wichita planemakers say that they should weather any slowdown in the U.S. economy. If fact, because of a backlog of orders, new models, increased international demand and the federal stimulus package, the companies expect continued growth for the next several years. â€œThese are wonderful times for us,â€ Hawker Beechcraft chief executive Jim Schuster told The Eagle.
But the success of the airplane manufacturers also presents a challenge for our region and state. As J.V. Lentell, outgoing chairman of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, warned last week, other states will aggressively seek to lure away the companies. He said that Wichita and the state need to be ready to fight to retain these companies.
One state move that would help is funding for aviation training and research. Kudos to local lawmakers for helping last week to include $5 million in funding for each effort in the House Education Committee budget.