By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Aerospace jobs are coming to Norman in the near future.
Gov. Mary Fallin, the University of Oklahoma, the Norman Economic Development Coalition and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce announced Monday that Commander Aircraft Corp. will occupy two hangars at Max Westheimer Airport on OU’s north campus and will expand one of those hangars by an additional 50,000 to 70,000 square feet.
Commander will bring an estimated 75 to100 jobs to Norman by its third year of operations.
Max Westheimer Airport will serve as Commander’s service and manufacturing headquarter operations.
“Aerospace is thriving in our state, and Commander’s decision to come back to Oklahoma underscores our reputation for being the best place in the U.S. to do business,” Fallin said. “We are a state that celebrates our new businesses, and we understand the importance of encouraging and supporting our existing businesses.
“Additionally, Commander Aircraft provides an opportunity to Oklahomans to stay in their community, work for a company that has solid roots in our state and earn an excellent wage.”
The announcement follows a nine-month search in four states for the best hangar location. After the company eliminated all states except Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce led a statewide competitive site search, and Norman was selected as the location of choice.
State leadership has pursued development of the aerospace industry in Oklahoma. Tinker Air Force Base in Del City, American Airlines in Tulsa and the Federal Aviation Agency Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center contribute to Oklahoma aerospace and make the state a prime growth area for the industry. Bureau of Labor statistics have ranked Oklahoma in the top 10 for aerospace growth in recent years.
“Commander Aircraft’s selection of Norman illustrates our community as progressive, innovative and a place to succeed,” said Don M. Wood, executive director of Norman’s Economic Development Coalition. “We look forward to working with Commander Aircraft as they expand their operations throughout the coming years.
“Commander will be doing business globally as well as domestically, and having them in Norman presents opportunities to attract other global companies to our city.”
Commander Aircraft is returning to Oklahoma under new leadership.
“Commander Aircraft was born in Oklahoma, and our focus has always been to get back to the state where Commander was well known and respected,” General Manger Bouri Mao said. “We are pleased to team up with the University of Oklahoma and look forward to manufacturing our airplane in Norman.
Oklahoma’s commercial aviation industry contributes an estimated $12.4 billion the state’s economy, according to a report issued in 2011 by Anautics Inc.
Research credits aerospace with providing more than 72,000 jobs in Oklahoma, with wages above the state average, and approximately 145,000 total jobs directly, indirectly and induced.
“The average wage is recorded at $55,000, which is almost double the state average,” Anautics said in the report funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Oklahoma Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development.
Commander is expected to be a good fit with Westheimer and the Norman community.
“We appreciate the University of Oklahoma working with us to make these facilities available,” Wood said. “Without that, this project would not have come to Norman.”
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.