Aviation manufacturing remains strong factor in growth of Kansas' economy

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) The Kansas economy is growing and despite the grounding of the 737 MAX airplane, aviation manufacturing remains a driving force behind it.

Jeremy Hill, the Director of Center for Economic Development and Business Research, says 2016-2017 were not good years for Wichita, but the city has seen steady growth over the last two years, especially in Sedgwick County.

"The demand for manufacturing is up because the fundamentals for manufacturing and aerospace are up. We need to produce more airplanes," says Jeremy Hill.

More than 45,000 manufacturing jobs were added in Sedgwick County in 2018 - before issues began with the 737 MAX. Hill says the market had a hiccup because of the airplane, but the demand has not gone away.

"The need for labor out there is still there for aerospace, so it's not gonna go away tomorrow or the next day," says Hill. "As we built up those jobs, it had the spillover effect all through the economy. That's what we're feeling this summer. We added a whole bunch of jobs; we had increases in wages."

Hill says it's a positive sign for households and the overall economy. He says the more money people have in their pocket, the more they're willing to spend it.

In come new businesses, like Trader Joe's and Dave Buster's.

"I think the more jobs that we can create here the more businesses we're going to have here, and people will stay here and spend their money," says Wichitan Maggie Menhusen.

Audrey Fibert agrees more businesses coming to Wichita will help keep families around.

"I think it just shows Wichita itself is getting a little more trendy. It's growing and people are obviously excited about how Wichita's getting several new places," she said.

Hill said he expects to see growth in manufacturing continue into next year.