(WICHITA, Kan.) — A special anniversary in Old Town Monday, as Airbus celebrates ten years in Wichita. Back then it was the company's first engineering and design facility in the U.S., now it is the largest.
When airbus first opened in Old Town, it had 27 engineers. John Papadatos was one of them.
"It was an exciting period, where a new company was starting fresh from the ground floor," Papadatos said. "I thought it was a great opportunity to join airbus."
17 of the originals are still working here a decade later, along with more than 350 others who have been hired since then.
"Those of us in the aerospace industry knew Wichita well, and we knew if we were going to find top talent we were going to have to go to Wichita," said Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor.
Now the company is celebrating its success. Operations here are up 600% since 2002, and expectations are high for even more growth in the future.
"We have been through some challenging times in South Central Kansas in our aviation business, I think this tells everyone that the Air Capitol of the world will remain that," said Kansas Representative Mike Pompeo.
"As long as we continue to do well, continue to deliver, the sky is the limit," said Airbus Americas Vice President of Engineering John O'Leary.
Airbus also announced a new partnership with the United Way. The company will team up engineers and students at Wichita State University with at risk youth in middle school to get them more interested in math and science
The goal is to create more future engineers, and to keep that talent in Kansas.
"Its critical," said Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. "You are not going to start an engineering student as a freshman in college, you start an engineering student in grade school."
Perhaps some of those students will be hired on at Airbus, and workers hope will be able to celebrate.the company's next ten years in Wichita.
Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor says Boeing's decision to leave Wichita may provide his company with more engineering talent, but right now Airbus has no interest in buying any of the facilities at the Boeing plant.
Airbus celebrates 10 years in Wichita