(WICHITA, Kan.) — It will be awhile before Wichita's economy makes major improvements. That's according to the Economic Outlook for 2011 put out by Wichita State Thursday. But for the first time in two years, limited job growth is expected in 2011. In the Wichita area, about 2,000 new jobs are expected. Statewide the prediction is closer to 10,000 jobs.
When you think of what drives Wichita's economy, aviation is at the top of the list. "We've had a pretty cyclical business," said Spirit Aero Systems President Jeff Turner. There are ups and downs in the aircraft industry and lately it's been down. So Turner was cautious when asked to predict what would happen next year. "I think it's a mixed bag. Aviation has some flatness in it and hopefully it will not go down any further. The business jet hasn't recovered yet but the commercial jet business is looking good," he said.
During Wichita State's economic outlook conference, Turner told the group Hawker Beechcraft isn't the only company communities are trying to lure away. He says in good times and bad, Wichita needs to cherish the aviation industry. "As a community we have to figure strategies to deal with the fact that this industry will have cycles," he said. Turner says one of the good things the community has done is to focus on education. He says the National Center for Aviation Training is a gem that will help train workers now for when work is needed again.
While aviation deals with its cycles, the economy relies on agriculture. "Before aviation there was agriculture. In these last few years agriculture has been holding the rest of the economy together," said K-State Professor Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu.
Amanor-Boadu says people need to eat so farmers will remain busy next year. He says as the world continues to develop the demand for crops will increase. He says although an increase in demand means higher production prices, farming will remain a staple for the economy while the aviation industry recovers.