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Thu, Aug 26, 2010

Brownback Makes Aviation Key To His Gubernatorial Campaign

Kansas Republican Says Aviation Is A "Major Driver" Of Kansas Economy

Kansas Republican gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback (pictured), who currently serves as U.S. Senator from that state, unveiled what he calls a "Road Map for Kansas Aviation" at a news conference in Wichita Tuesday.

Brownback made the announcement to Kansas aviation business leaders who had just attended the Wichita Aero Club luncheon at the Airport Hilton in Wichita. "The Kansas Aviation Industry is a major driver of the Kansas economy," Senator Brownback said. "The Wichita Aerospace Cluster has unique industry, research and development, and training partnerships that are the envy of the world. We must defend our industry from other states and nations who have targeted it and want to take it away."

Brownback said his administration would work closely with industry on current competitiveness issues as well as look ahead at future trends and be prepared for the next growth opportunities. "Kansas needs to be proactive instead of reactive on new program starts and be prepared for the future direction of the industry. To assist in this effort, I will form an aviation advisory committee of leaders from all segments of the industry. We will develop a strategy to address current challenges as well as prepare for future opportunities," Brownback said.

The candidate said among his priorities would be expanding programs at such facilities as the National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT), universities, and local schools that train the next generation of aerospace engineers, machinists, mechanics, and technicians as well as build upon the advanced research and development capabilities at the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) and its proven expertise in the development of composite and other advanced materials for the commercial and general aviation industry. "We must inspire and prepare our young people to be the dreamers and innovators of tomorrow who will lead this industry forward," Brownback said.

Brownback renewed the campaign's commitment to build WSU's Aerospace Engineering Program into the nation's best and leverage the assets of NCAT and NIAR to enhance Wichita's leadership position and remain the Air Capital of the World. "We will make it a priority to help our existing companies grow as well as aggressively pursue opportunities to bring aerospace companies and jobs, including those in commercial space vehicles manufacturing, from other states and countries to Kansas," Brownback said.

Brownback continued "One area where we can leverage our existing infrastructure and expertise is in the expanding market of commercial space flight. We will pursue partnering opportunities with our existing companies and private space companies on the design and manufacture of commercial space vehicles as well encourage them to locate some of their facilities here. This type of manufacturing lines up nicely with our core competencies in composites and aerospace structures."

Brownback's Democratic opponent, Tom Holland, said through a spokesman he already has "concrete commitments" for investment in the Kansas workforce and expand research, though not specifically in aviation. Campaign spokesman Seth Bundy also told ABC News in an e-mail that Brownback voted for both the bailout of "Wall Street crooks who created this mess." as well as against the extension of unemployment benefits, which he said would have hurt unemployed aviation workers in Kansas.

FMI: www.brownback.com, www.tomhollandforkansas.com

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