OKLAHOMA CITY—As General Motors enters Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the company has announced the closing of 14 plants across the country, leaving many communities to wonder, “What to do with a vacant GM plant?”

When GM closed its plant in Oklahoma City, the community pondered that very question concerning the 3.8 million-square-foot factory and the 430 acres on which it sits, but not for long…

The city, county and state had a plan.

Through the leadership of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the three entities rallied to purchase the former GM assembly plant and repurpose it to support Oklahoma’s thriving aerospace industry - more specifically for use by Tinker Air Force Base. Tinker AFB is the Air Force’s largest and most significant base due to its emphasis on maintenance, repair and overhaul of military aircraft and engines. Located in the center of Oklahoma, Tinker AFB employs 26,000 and accounts for $2 billion in state revenue.

According to Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Tinker Aerospace Complex has the potential to create thousands of new jobs.

“This provides a significant benefit to the many public-private partnerships that have become the hallmark of Tinker’s success,” Williams said.

Oklahoma’s benefits from repurposing a former GM plant include:

Recoup lost jobs
Repurpose major infrastructure
Increase growth of the state’s aerospace industry
Bring new business opportunities for the private sector

Although the overall benefits of the newly renovated plant have yet to be reported, in a previous interview with Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, he commented about the relationships forged throughout the process.

“The officials at Tinker are enthused, the Pentagon is impressed, and it helps solidify our relationship with the most important economic driver we have,” Cornett said.

The transformation of Oklahoma City’s former GM plant came quickly.

Just a few months following GM’s announcement to close the plant, Oklahoma County voters approved a $55 million bond issue to buy the property and lease it back to the Air Force for $1 a year in exchange for retrofitting the plant and using it to replace aging maintenance buildings.

SOURCE Greater Oklahoma City Chamber

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