The state Legislature is working on modifications to the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act that are expected to bring a new aircraft maintenance facility and more than 1,300 new jobs to Oklahoma’s Tinker Air Force Base, officials confirmed Tuesday.
The Air Force is planning to add the jobs at Tinker Air Force Base, starting in 2018, to perform maintenance work on the new KC-46A airplane, said state Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville. The KC-46A is the Air Force’s next generation aerial refueling tanker.
Roy Williams, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, confirmed that an agreement has been reached to locate the new maintenance facility at Tinker and said officials are working out financing details to acquire land for the facility.
“The plan is for that to be here and the plan is for us to make this deal happen,” he said. “We have assured the Air Force we’re going to do everything we can to make this happen, and they’ve assured us this goes to Oklahoma City. And it’s a $500 million construction project. It involves the construction of over a dozen hangars. It is huge.”
The facility is expected to create 1,321 new jobs with an average wage of $62,000, according to information provided to Sears.
Construction probably would begin in late 2015, Williams said.
The new maintenance facility would take up only about half of the land Tinker is seeking to acquire and the rest of the property could be used for expansion, Williams said. The Air Force currently is evaluating whether to bring an additional 2,000 jobs to Tinker, lawmakers were told.
Plans are to use the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act to help finance the deal.
Officials with Tinker, the City of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County and the Air Force are finalizing negotiations to purchase the 175-acre BNSF rail yard that is surrounded on three sides by Tinker, Williams said.
He said the purchase price is expected to be somewhere between $40 million and $45 million.
The city, county and Tinker are expected to partner in the acquisition financing, but a key component is obtaining reimbursement for new jobs through the Quality Jobs Act to help pay about $26 million of the land acquisition costs, Williams said.
If the state were to just pay Tinker for the jobs created, as it would a private employer, federal law would require that the money go to the U.S. Treasury, he said.
Sears and Williams said the Legislature is being asked to “tweak” the Quality Jobs Act so the money can go to a public trust that can hold it and use it to repay the city and county for some of the money that would be used to buy the land.
“If we can get over this hurdle, then we can sit down with the city and county and try to figure out how exactly we can make this happen,” Williams said. “Without this legislation, we really wouldn’t have the resources to make the property acquisition.”
Williams said the bill change also could assist the state in efforts to expand missions at other military institutions in the state.
We have assured the Air Force we’re going to do everything we can to make this happen, and they’ve assured us this goes to Oklahoma City. And it’s a $500 million construction project. It involves the construction of over a dozen hangars. It is huge.”
President and chief executive officer of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber