BURNS FLAT, Okla. (KFOR) – State leaders are hoping to turn two hangars and one of the largest runways in North America into a thriving hub for aerospace. They say the huge air and space port in Burns Flat will be the future home to the Premium Aerospace Center.
“This has been the best kept secret in the United States of America,” said Rep. Todd Russ R-Cordell.
“This is a facility that has so much potential,” said Sen. Brent Howard, R-Altus.
Ground was broken on Monday, making way for the new $120-million dollar site of the Premium Aerospace Center (PAC) at the Oklahoma Air and Space Port, formerly known as the Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base.
The new start up company will specialize in giving large aircrafts face lifts.
“When a large 747, or larger aircraft, needs to be repainted and the interior needs to be restored, they can fly it in here at Clinton-Sherman.
According to the State Chamber of Commerce, PAC is being backed by international investors and so far has not applied for any state incentives.
The Air and Space Port, however, is expected to get $4.25 million dollars in Federal ARPA funds for upgrades.
“It’s just the best spot,” said Governor Kevin Stitt. “You don’t want to be on the coast, you want to be right in the center of the US.”
PAC and state leaders said the air and space port is a prime spot, with its 3-mile runway, one of the largest private runways in the U.S. – and it will be just one of seven facilities in the nation, with a wide-body 130-degree paint oven.
PAC plans to add another hangar after renovating two existing hangars. The end goal is to be able to service larger planes.
“We’re trying to finish the renovation and expansion of the hangar in February,” said Lucas Conde, General Manager of PAC. “We try to have in March, the first airplane to paint.”
PAC said it’ll also be partnering with the Western Technology Center, just down the street from the base, to build a workforce pipeline.
“So PAC can talk to them and say ‘here’s the curriculum that I need you to teach for the kids that want to work here at the hangar,’” said Hopper Smith with the Department of Commerce.
Lawmakers believe the majority of the workers will come from western Oklahoma.
PAC plans to hire 30 employees at first, but the company is hoping to hire between 450 and 600 over time.
“Majority will probably come from the Elk City area, as well as Weatherford and Clinton,” said Sen. Brent Howard, R-Altus. “I think between $19-25 an hour.”