Boeing Closure Will Have a Big Impact on State of Kansas

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LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Boeing announced the closure of its Wichita site by the end of 2013 Wednesday.  The announcement will leave more than 2,100 workers in limbo.  The defense, space and security facility is not just leaving, but economists say it's also taking big bucks with it.

"What happens is we're going to be losing a lot of jobs that pay a lot of taxes and those taxes go to support things like education and other things that the state purchases and so state revenues are going to fall as a result," said Donna Ginther, a University of Kansas Economics Professor.

What will happen to the 475 Kansas suppliers Boeing says it works with?  Boeing spokesperson Jarrod Bartlett said they'll keep working with them and anticipates even more growth for suppliers in Kansas.

But how much work they've been doing is unclear.  We checked a 2010 list of Kansas suppliers. The companies we talked to said they hadn't done business with the Boeing for years now.  Some said not since 2005 when the Wichita division of Boeing Commercial Airplanes was acquired by Spirit Aerosystems.

For senior researcher Jeff Pinkerton of the Mid-America Regional Council, that number of suppliers, along with the future isn't clear.

"Somebody may do business with somebody that does business with a supplier to Boeing, so it's very difficult to see how the dominos are going to fall eventually," said Jeff Pinkerton.

What these economists do know is that there seems to be a bright spot.  They say employers can anticipate on-the-market skilled workers by the end of 2013, including in Kansas City, where manufacturing accounts for eight percent of the workforce.

"A manufacturer is looking for a talented employee and then all of a sudden there are thousands of talented manufacturers who are unemployed in the Wichita area," said Pinkerton.

But economists say those who will be looking for a job, might have a hard time landing one with the same, or higher pay scale.

Bartlett says employees will be transferred to Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Puget Sound. The spokesperson said others will retire, or be laid off. He said there isn't an exact number of the amount of people being laid off yet.

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