(Tulsa, Okla.) – Oklahoma’s aerospace industry is one of the top contributors to the local economy, but the public doesn’t seem to notice it as one.
More than 300 aerospace-related companies generate a combined industry output of about $13 billion each year, according to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
One out of every 11 people in the state is employed in the aerospace industry.
Smith hopes an upcoming aerospace conference will help the industry connect and communicate on a grander stage.
Aerospace industry giants will gather at the eighth annual Oklahoma Aerospace Summit and Expo. The event starts Monday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Tulsa.
About a year ago, SpiritBank re-established the Oklahoma Aerospace Alliance.
The purpose of OAA is to provide a venue for Oklahoma aerospace companies to network and discuss what is needed to fuel the industry. The OAA took control of the summit this year, and it marks the first time the summit has been held in Tulsa.
Vic Bird, director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, said with the high number of aerospace companies in Tulsa, it’s only logical for the city to host the summit.
The summit originally started on a smaller scale with a military focus. After a couple of years, the summit’s focus broadened to include commercial maintenance and business aviation.
While there is a focus on military defense, this year’s event will be more focused on commercial and general aviation.
“I think it’s a good thing, this is in Tulsa – this is a statewide summit,” said Bird. “This is about the entire aerospace industry.”
The aerospace industry has faced hard times in the down economy. Jobs have been shed, and companies reported a slowdown in business.
So it’s no surprise that several topics at the summit revolve around the state of the economy.
Bird said compared to other states, Oklahoma aerospace has weathered the economic storm fairly well.
In looking at the history of the aerospace industry, it always bounces back, he said.
“I think you are going to see optimism at the summit,” Bird said. “As I’ve heard this will be the most well attended summit yet.”
Smith anticipates that about 1,000 people will attend this year.
Speakers at the summit include representatives from American Airlines and the Boeing Co.
There also will be numerous networking opportunities and breakout sessions for companies, Smith said.
On Thursday, the summit is sponsoring an education and training day at Tulsa Technology Center’s Riverside campus.
“Industry leaders and academic counselors will mentor and talk about the industry,” said Smith. “But that is just not one day – it needs to be an all-year effort to help grow our future aerospace industry.”