Governor Praises Broken Arrow Firm's New New High Tech Jobs

Tuesday, September 29th 2015, 1:22 pm
By: News On 6

The Oklahoma economy took another big hit Tuesday, as Chesapeake Energy announced layoffs of more than 550 employees.

Chesapeake is Oklahoma City's 11th largest employer and has about 5,500 employees nationwide.

Chesapeake is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the country, but the company lost more than $4 billion last quarter.

A Broken Arrow company is hoping to make the best of this slump in the energy sector by bringing attention to another industry, aerospace simulation.

L-3 AMI announced Tuesday that it will add 30 high-paying tech jobs, on top of already having added 84 jobs in the last year.

“The support that L-3 AMI has received from both local and state entities has been invaluable in assisting our Broken Arrow facility to grow its workforce and gain the resources needed to continue to expand our business,” said Leonard Genna, President, Link Simulation and Training for L-3.

"Due to this support, we have been able to fill positions within L-3 AMI that are critical to the fulfillment of contracts, enabling us to continue that work for a number of years. We recognize that the state supports our expansion efforts and is a key reason why we have been able to maintain and grow a stable workforce.”

The company specializes in making simulators for fighter jets and helicopters, mainly to help train members of the military.

It's not an industry that most people associate with Oklahoma or Broken Arrow, for that matter, but people like Governor Mary Fallin are pushing to change that.

Just as Tulsa was known as Oil Capital of the World, L-3 AMI is hoping to put Broken Arrow on the map, too.

Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce president, Wes Smithwick said, "We are the simulation capital of Oklahoma, and our strategy is to be the simulation capital of the United States."

And it's well on its way. L-3 AMI's recent history is part of the proof; the company added 84 jobs last year, with 30 more coming over the next six months.

Its facilities cover 60,000-square feet in Broken Arrow, and it's not done growing, according to Vice President Ronald Falk.

"Simulation market is growing, especially in the naval sector. The Navy simulation has been growing over the last several years," he said.

And these are high-paying, high-tech jobs - designing and building simulators for military jets, naval ships and helicopters.

The kind of jobs Fallin said are good for the state, especially as its main industry, oil and gas, takes a hit.

"Having this expansion today of L3, where they're working on helicopters, and jet fighters and high-tech-type equipment that will help with our defense industry is very important to Oklahoma's economy, and certainly helps us diversify our economy, especially at a time we're seeing a slump in the energy sector," Fallin said.

Smithwick said, "The jobs pay very, very well. And these are jobs that pay well, well above the Tulsa County average. That's why it's so important to go after this type of workforce."

The company said it’s not releasing the pay-scale of the new jobs, only that they are above-average wages.