Tulsa Manufacturing Plants Plan Infrastructure Improvements With Vision2 Money

Wednesday, September 12th 2012, 10:34 pm
By: Tess Maune

The City of Tulsa is shared its vision for economic development Wednesday.

Vision2 goes before voters in November.

One-third of the $750-million tax extension would pay for improvements to building at the airport.

The bulk of that would go to American Airlines and the IC Bus plant.

Both of those companies lease their facilities from the city, and say that money is a must to keep the Tulsa economy thriving.

The IC Bus Plant has been in business on Tulsa soil since 2001 and has churned out more than 100,000 big yellow buses.

"We build the best buses in the world and we bring your children to school every day," said the maintenance and facility director Eric Saleh.

8/15/2012 Related Story: City Leaders Ask For Your Ideas About How To Use Vision 2 Money

The city owns the one million square foot facility and IC leases it for a nominal fee of one dollar.

IC is responsible for basic maintenance and upkeep of the facility.

The plant is asking for up to $25 million for help with some of its major infrastructure issues. The top priorities are the roofing, electrical wiring and climate control.

The faulty roof forced the plant to shut down production for two full days last winter.

Saleh said the company put in $3 million of its own money, this year alone, for roof repairs.

Saleh said the improvements would bring more jobs to the economy.

"There's lots of talk about adding additional jobs and bringing more manufacturing into this facility. As it is one million square feet, we do have room to grow here," Saleh said.

American Airlines also wants a piece of the Vision2 pie. The company is asking for up to $210 million.

9/2/2012 Related Story: Opposition Emerges To Tulsa Vision2 Project

They're looking at modifying hangars to support new aircraft, upgrading technology and building a new test cell to accommodate two new engines being added to their fleet.

Wayne Thomas, director of engine maintenance, says the changes are imperative to staying competitive.

"Without being competitive, we end up where we are today. We've changed our whole business model. Competitive is what it's all about—we've got to be competitive," Thomas said.

Keep in mind, all of the improvements would be made to the infrastructure at these facilities, and while both companies say they have no plans of leaving Tulsa, if they did, another company would be able step right in and begin operation because of the investment.