(WICHITA, Kan.)—Thousands of jobs for decades to come. Some of those jobs started today, as Boeing hired some engineers one day after it won the tanker contract.
"Well, I've been waiting for a decade to be able to say this," said Gov. Sam Brownback Friday afternoon at Boeing in Wichita. "But congratulations Kansas workers, congratulations Boeing, Spirit Aerosystems. We won, we got it, we're going to build it."
The governor, Sen. Pat Roberts and Sen. Jerry Moran, Reps. Lynn Jenkins and Mike Pompeo -- as well as former Rep. Todd Tiahrt -- all spoke Friday afternoon.
"This is a great story," explained Tiahrt, who earned the name 'Tanker Todd' for his work on the project. "This is a story of getting knocked down, losing for one or two rounds, then fighting for a decade to get the right answer."
Boeing beat out EADS by meeting all the standards set by the Air Force, and by doing it for less than EADS - by more than 1%. That's roughly $35,000,000 less than the EADS bid. "This is," said Gov. Brownback, "in my estimation, and I believe it's accurate, the largest military contract in world history."
Lawmakers estimate this will create thousands of jobs. "Well in excess of 5,000 jobs will be created," said Freshman Representative Mike Pompeo. "We won't be able to count up all the car dealers, dentists, and schools that will benefit from this."
But lawmakers say it will easily be in the thousands with an economic impact in the billions. "This shouldn't have taken this long," said Sen. Roberts, "and that's probably the understatement of the day here. It's been a tough fight."