Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Gov. Mary Fallin thanked Tuesday Flight Safety International for its "investment and confidence" in Oklahoma's aerospace industry.
Fallin, along with Broken Arrow Mayor Mike Lester, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, addressed more than 400 people during its grand opening ceremony at its new facility, 700 N. Ninth St.
Flight Safety International produces aircraft simulators and also trains about 75,000 commercial, military and civilian pilots each year in its 43 centers worldwide. It moved to Broken Arrow in 1987 and employs about 670 people.
City and state leaders fought to keep Flight Safety International in Broken Arrow after it outgrew its facilities and considered moving operations out of state. The city offered the company $6 million in incentives and a 99-year lease to keep it in Broken Arrow.
Fallin said Flight Safety is key to the aerospace industry, which she called one of Oklahoma's most important.
"One in 10 jobs in Oklahoma get income from the aerospace industry and pay twice what a normal jobs pays in our state," Fallin said. "We have over 500 different aerospace-related companies in our state, creating over $12 billion in economic output in Oklahoma's economy. That's why it's important to have more expansions in our state like this."
Lester said city officials, the school system, the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Authority worked together to retain Flight Safety International. Lester expects the company to bring 300 jobs in the coming years, new businesses and increased sales tax revenues.
"How long would it take us to replace those high-paying jobs if we allowed them to leave? The answer is pretty simple," Lester said.
Inhofe said Flight Safety International's expansion is a bright spot for Oklahoma in a slow national economy.
"In this time, all you hear is negative things, particularly from the administration (in Washington) with the downturn and all these problems we're having," Inhofe said. "But look at all the people around here... we are here to help you outgrow this facility and help make it larger."
Sullivan also said Flight Safety International is proof of a collaboration.
"This is what can happen if we all work together for our community and our state to create high-paying jobs like the ones at Flight Safety," Sullivan said.
By Emily Ann Holman