Aerospace Powers Tulsa Economy

Tulsa’s aerospace sector has spurred the state’s rebounding economy — providing much of the state’s high-tech jobs, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and industry sources.

For example, two Tulsa-based companies made significant job announcements in the past month.

Tulsa-based Nordam Group is looking for 260 engineers and skilled assembly workers. Also, SpiritAerosystems will fill up to 1,200 jobs that qualify for state incentives under Oklahoma’s Quality Jobs program.

Aerospace represents a bright spot for Oklahoma, according to the FDIC.

“The Tulsa aerospace cluster is providing many of the state’s high-tech jobs and represents a bright spot for the Oklahoma economy,” the FDIC said in its quarterly summary of state banking and economic conditions.

The growth has been the result of the use of high-tech equipment to expand commercial aircraft and transportation equipment industries.

“Aerospace companies across the state continue to add high-tech jobs,” said Larry Findeiss, executive director of the Oklahoma Aerospace Alliance, announcing new contracts and the need for additional employees with increasing frequency.

The aviation industry is a “tremendous economic force” in Oklahoma, said Victor Bird, director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.

“With more than 300 aerospace firms in our state, the industry accounts for more than 143,000 jobs, nearly $5 billion in payroll and nearly $12 billion in industrial output,” he said.

Oklahoma ranks in the top ten in the nation for the number of airports per capita. There are more than 300 aerospace-related companies generating more than a billion dollars annually in the state, according to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

“The state offers a range of advantages and incentives to aerospace companies that are difficult to match anywhere in the world,” said Leslie Blair, public information officer.

Gross exports from Oklahoma grew by about one-third — to a total of $4.3 billion during 2005 — driven by greater demand for commercial aircraft and transportation equipment.

Oklahoma per capita personal income growth exceeds the nation.

Per capita income in the state rose more rapidly than the nation in 2005, in part because of the addition of higher wage jobs.

Employment in the high-tech sector expanded slightly faster than total non-farm jobs during 2005, and average wages in this sector were 55 percent higher than those of other private sector jobs, according to the FDIC’s economic profile.

“Growth in Oklahoma’s aerospace industry bolstered the state’s overall economy last year, with Tulsa receiving special mention,” said Frank Gresock, FDIC public affairs director.

“The Tulsa aerospace cluster is providing many of the state’s high-tech jobs and represents a bright spot for the Oklahoma economy,” he said.

Most of the state’s aerospace business is in maintenance, overhaul and repair of military and commercial aircraft. Demand for employees related to this work should remain steady, Findeiss said. ?

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