OíConnor: Continued partnership drives OKCís economyPublished: Wednesday, July 28, 2021 By: Cathy O'Connor Source: The Journal Record
Oklahoma City’s support of Tinker Air Force Base has been constant since it began in 1941 after a group of Oklahoma City businessmen, led by Edward K. Gaylord, Wilbur E. Hightower, Tom Braniff, Frank Buttram and Stanley Draper, learned that the War Department was considering the central United States as a location for a maintenance and supply depot. They offered a 480-acre site with an option for 960 additional acres of land.
Since then, the base has expanded over the years and now spans across 5,000 acres, with the continued partnership and support of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the city of Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Industries Authority, our congressional delegation and the people of Oklahoma. It continues to be a key driver in Oklahoma City’s and the region’s economy with $4.8 billion pumped into the local economy every year.
The latest expansion, announced last week, will use 220 acres acquired by the Oklahoma Industries Authority to allow for mission growth. The OIA acquired the acreage over time, purchasing smaller parcels and holding them for years with the goal of selling or leasing to Tinker for expansion when the time was right.
The Oklahoma Industries Authority promotes and facilitates the development of industry and commerce in Oklahoma County and provides facilities, employment opportunities and activities to strengthen our economy and welfare. Some areas of focus include industrial, health care, warehouse, national defense, manufacturing, technology and aerospace.
Since the OIA was created in 1966, it has assisted with over 200 economic development projects, resulting in the creation of over 100,000 jobs and over $3 billion in new facilities.
Many of the facilities on and around Tinker are examples of OIA expansion support, including the Boeing facility at 59th and Air Depot and the new KC46A hangars. Other examples across Oklahoma City include the campuses of Mercy, Baptist and St. Anthony hospitals, Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma Christian University and the FAA Aeronautics Center.
The new 220-acre parcel, combined with the new configuration that incorporates Douglas Boulevard into the Tinker footprint, will bring several maintenance, technology and communications operations on the east side of Douglas Boulevard securely within the new base perimeter sometime around the end of 2022. These moves will continue Oklahoma City’s legacy of support for the base.
Cathy O’Connor is president of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City and the general manager for OIA.