With an awkward round of applause and the signing of a few straggling documents Wednesday, the Oklahoma County commissioners bought the idled General Motors plant and leased it to Tinker Air Force Base. Officials with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce estimate that the decision to buy the $54 million plant and lease it for $1 a year could bring 3,000 civilian and federal jobs to the metro area over the next decade. In the shorter-term, the move frees up Tinker officials to transfer jobs from older facilities. Robin Roberts-Krieger, executive vice president of economic development for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, said the Tinker Aerospace Complex, as it is now named, will be "one of the most modern manufacturing facilities in the world.” The chamber will work with the Air Force to expand partnerships and develop new ones, she said. U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said he expects the lease agreement to bring economic growth. "The success of Tinker Air Force Base has always depended on the ability of local leaders to think innovatively and create opportunities for the base to grow. Investing in Tinker Air Force Base is an investment in Oklahoma's future,” he said in a news release issued Wednesday. County Treasurer Butch Freeman, who served as Tinker's comptroller for several years, said that while a lot of people worked many months on this project, the real thanks should go to the Oklahoma County voters who passed the necessary bond legislation.
BY THE NUMBERS•$54 million: County cost to buy the former General Motors plant. •$10 million: Amount the state of Oklahoma contributed to the $54 million price tag. •$1: Amount Tinker will pay the county every year to lease the facility. •3.8 million: Square footage of the plant. •69: Number of aging Tinker buildings that will be closed after operations are moved to the new facility. •2.2 million: Square footage of old, substandard buildings that will eventually be demolished at Tinker. •27,000: People employed at Tinker Air Force Base. •3,000: Number of new Tinker jobs officials estimate will be created over the next decade. •$3.4 billion: Estimated economic impact by annual operations at Tinker. •$50 million-$100 million: Amount the Air Force has committed to invest in the facility over the next five years. •430: Acres of land included with the plant purchase.