Boeing Corp. workers the first week of this month began moving into the ground floor of a new six-story, 320,000-square-foot office building at SE 59 and Air Depot.
The facility, which is next to a look-alike four-year-old, four-story, 200,000-square-foot building on the south side of Tinker Air Force Base, will accommodate many of its workers being relocated from the west coast and Kansas.
The aviation company currently employs about 900 in Oklahoma City, including 200 on base, spokeswoman Jennifer Hogan said. But that total, she said, is estimated to be 1,000 by year-end — and 2,000 by the end of next year, when Oklahoma City will become an official Boeing hub.
In January, Boeing announced plans to close by next year its circa World War II Wichita facility, which has some 2,160 workers, and move engineering and program management work — or an estimated 1,000 jobs involving the B-52 bomber, the flying Pentagon and the nation’s executive fleet — to Oklahoma City. In August 2010, the company decided to move between 500 and 550 jobs involving the B-1 bomber and C-130 aircraft from Long Beach, Calif.
Boeing is about four months into the Long Beach transition, with completion expected by year-end, Hogan said.
It’ll be this fall before any Wichita employees come, she said.
Both transitions involve a mixture of relocations and new hires for a broad range of jobs, dominated by engineering but including finance, human resources and business supplier positions.
Current work on the C-130 has been put on hold, after President Barack Obama earlier this year proposed eliminating the plane because it’s more expensive and less capable than others. But the people working in the 110 of about 232 C-130 positions already transferred to Oklahoma City now are working on the B-1, said Steve Goo, a transplant from California and vice president of weapon systems modernization.
Goo said the Oklahoma City consolidation in large part was about cutting costs and getting closer to its customers, Tinker and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
“With its current economic crisis, our country can’t afford to buy new aircraft,” Goo said. “But we’re contracting major updates so that our aircraft, many of them built in the early ’60s, can fly close to 80 years, be reliable and relevant, and continue to protect us and keep us free.”
Goo welcomes his relocation here, where he and his wife are leasing a home in north Edmond.
“The first thing that struck me is the traffic; it actually moves,” he said.
Plus, gasoline costs are nearly $1 less than in the Los Angeles area, he said.
“And there’s clean air: you don’t see any smog,” Goo said. “There’s almost never a day that’s this clear in California.”