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Two Aviation Projects Get State Funds

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Tulsa's aerospace business gets a big lift thanks to the state. The governor's office announced that it will give $10 million to American Airlines and Spirit Aerosystems, to expand their operations here. The News On 6’s Steve Berg reports the hope is that will lead to hundreds of new jobs.

"It's a day that I've been waiting for for a long time," said American Airlines vice president Carmine Romano.

Romano says the original plan was to take third penny sales tax money from the city and build a new narrow-body jet hangar, but he says that money will now be combined with the state money to build a new hangar for wide-body jets, which he says are growing in number and growing in age.

"Where the action right now is wide-body maintenance," said Romano.

The money comes from what's known as the Opportunity Fund, a new creation by the state, which needs no legislative or public vote and lets them respond to business prospects much faster.

"We have to be able to compete with other states that have that deal-closing fund that can turn around that deal-closer in a matter of hours," said Governor Brad Henry.

Since losing its oil crown, Tulsa's most important industry, officials say, is aerospace. And they say they're determined to make it grow. There are no guarantees, but they say the two projects have the potential to generate 600 new jobs.

"We have already brought back 200 people to the payroll,” said Romano. “So I believe 200 or 300 more is going to be out of range."

While they don't plan on hiring new workers right away, union vice-president Kevin Hammack says they do have immediate customers.

"There are people that we could sign up today and move them into that hangar and start their maintenance today," said Hammack.

Spirit meanwhile will be using its money to renovate an existing building. No word yet on when these new projects would be done.

Watch the video:

State Aviation Industry Gets Big Boost
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To find out more about American Airlines maintenance services, click here.
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