The Boeing Company cut the ribbon on its new six-story building at 6005 S Air Depot Road on Thursday. The company plans to expand its presence in Oklahoma City from 900 to 2,100 employees by the end of 2013, Boeing spokeswoman Yvonne Johnson-Jones said.
Boeing announced in January that it plans to close its Wichita, Kan., facility, moving about 1,000 jobs to Oklahoma City. The company has moved about 400 of the 500 to 550 employees it plans to move from the West Coast, after moving its B-1 and C-130 programs from Long Beach, Calif., to Oklahoma City.
Johnson-Jones said it is not yet clear how many positions will be filled by new hires.
The jobs are mostly in engineering, but also in finance, site operations, logistics and technical publications, she said.
The company is in the process of making offers to Wichita employees to move to the Oklahoma City facility, she said. People will begin to move in small groups starting this fall.
Boeing will give employees of the Wichita facility the first opportunity to apply for positions that match their skill sets, Johnson-Jones said.
The ceremony Thursday came after 14 months of construction. The new facility was designed and built by the Gardner Tanenbaum Group, Boeing said.
Boeing already had a four-story, 200,000-square-foot building at the location. The buildings are near Tinker Air Force Base, and 200 Boeing employees work on the base to provide engineering support, Johnson-Jones said.
Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said at Thursday's ceremony that despite a significant cut to the defense budget, Boeing is expanding in Oklahoma City because of the location's reputation for top-end, affordable engineering work.
“This is a great place to do business,” he said.
Gov. Mary Fallin said she was grateful for the company's investment, adding that she might start calling Oklahoma the “silicon prairie” of the United States.
Fallin has been committed to investing in the aviation industry for a long time, Mayor Mick Cornett said. He said the state has made an effort to identify with the best companies in the country.
Cornett visited Boeing employees in Long Beach and in Wichita to answer their questions about moving to Oklahoma City. He said the new jobs were the type of jobs every city wants, and that they are part of a trend of good times for Oklahoma City.
“It seems like if you have good news to announce, you have to stand in line,” Cornett said.
Johnson-Jones said the company is glad to be closer to its customers at the air force base and to have space to grow. She said the new building will be about 80 percent full when all 2,100 positions are filled.
“We hope for future growth. … This is going to be, kind of, our engineering excellence city,” she said.