From the Mayor 08/31/16

Reprinted with permission of the Independence Daily Reporter

It may not seem true lately, but this is a great time to be mayor! Why? Because there is fantastic news for Independence and Montgomery County this week. An Independence facility has just become a significant supplier to Fed Ex, as well as the U.S. Government, and governments around the world.

As you surely know by now, Textron has just announced that they will be moving production of the Cessna Caravan from Wichita to the Independence plant. This is fabulous news for our local economy, but it also makes me proud of each and every employee at our Cessna plant. In my opinion, the Independence facility, under the tremendous leadership of Kerri Petersen, should consider this a huge vote of confidence. From my outsider perspective, this move means that the Cessna corporate folks are confident that our Independence team (our friends, family members, and fellow citizens) can handle anything that’s thrown their way.

The Caravan was certified in 1984 and was first built in 1985 and is a steady seller for Textron; more than 2,500 have been built and delivered. Just under 100 Caravans were sold last year and sales this year are expected to remain strong. According to Wikipedia, “the Cessna 208 Caravan is used by governmental organizations and by a large number of companies for police, air ambulance, passenger transport, air charter, freight and parachuting operations. FedEx Feeder is the largest operator of the Cessna 208, with over 250 in service.” Wiki goes on to list more than 20 different countries that have purchased Cessna Caravans. This plane is sold all over the world!

The total Caravan production will be transferred to Independence gradually over the next several months or a year, but parts of the production process will begin in Independence very quickly. Starting within a few weeks, Caravans that have been built in Wichita will be shipped to Independence for paint and then their “world class” customer prep treatment.

As a bonus, Caravan buyers will begin almost immediately to come to Independence to pick up their new planes. This has got to be good news for our local hotel and restaurant businesses.

Again, the entire production will take a while to move here. Over the next 6 to 12 months, additional parts of the plane’s production will be moved to Independence, and finally the entire plane will be built here. I haven’t heard any estimates yet as to how many new employees will ultimately be hired but I’ve got to believe that it takes more than a few people to build nearly a hundred additional planes a year.

Don Hill, a member of the original Cessna recruitment team in 1994, said exactly what’s going through my mind, “We’re excited about the future.”

Mayor Gary Hogsett