Williams: Celebrating Tinker AFB

Published: Thursday, June 25, 2009 7:00 am By: Roy Williams, Guest Columnist

The Journal Record

Tinker Air Force Base and the state of Oklahoma have enjoyed a successful partnership since 1940 when word spread that the U.S. Air Force was interested in building a depot in the Midwest. Local leadership worked aggressively to make sure Oklahoma City was that destination. The land where Tinker currently sits was purchased, with no promise of a facility, in hopes of luring the Air Force to our city.

On April 8, 1941, Oklahoma City was selected over several cities in the Midwest as the site for a new Air Force materiel depot, employing 3,500 workers. Since then, local and state leadership have worked successfully with Tinker to foster a strong relationship between the base and the community.

During unstable times in the national and international economy, it is almost impossible to quantify the stability Tinker and its work force bring to our local economy.

Through this partnership, Tinker has grown and expanded to more than 27,000 workers, making it the largest single-site employer in our state. The base has an estimated impact of $3.4 billion on our local economy, making it a vital cog in our state's economic engine. Tinker employs workers from 44 counties in Oklahoma. Supporting Tinker is one of the most important things we can do for our economy.

No project exhibits the spirit of cooperation between the base and our community more than the recent acquisition of the former General Motors plant in Oklahoma City. While major cities throughout the U.S. are reeling from the closure of several GM plants, local leadership worked together with the U.S. Air Force, GM and the citizens of Oklahoma County to purchase and transform the empty GM facility to the Tinker Aerospace Complex. This state-of-the-art complex helps Tinker become more efficient and could potentially lead to thousands of new jobs for Oklahoma.

As CEO and president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, one of the events I look forward to the most is our annual Tinker Dining Out. For more than 30 years, the chamber has sponsored this annual black-tie event that celebrates Tinker Air Force Base and the military personnel in our community. This year our guest speaker will be Air Force Academy Commander Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz, commander, Air Education and Training Command.

We look forward to seeing you on June 25 as we celebrate more than 45 years of a successful partnership between Tinker and the Oklahoma City community, and as we look forward to many more years to come.

Roy Williams is CEO and president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

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