But with the news of Sikorsky’s pullout of our Chase Industrial Park we received a not-so-gentle reminder that the rest of the world’s economies are struggling.
The news Thursday afternoon that the helicopter operations were closing probably didn’t surprise anyone in the community as rumors had floated for months of slowdowns and cutbacks. That does not ease the pain of transition for all who were employed there.
We can only hope that those workers can relocate their skills to other air facilities in the area or maybe into the Eagle Ford oil patch.
From the local ownership perspective, we’re back to square one, albeit a fully renovated square one. While no one would mistake Chase for Alliance Airport, upgrades spurred by Sikorsky’s operation leave us with improved marketability in refurbished hangars, supporting warehouse and more. Throw in the runway improvement spurred by Dan Hughes’ decision to move his jet out there. That’s far better than the collapsing infrastructure Chase had to market prior to 2005.
The difficult part of the equation is industry as a whole – like Sikorsky – is still in a global slump and competition will be keen to land any prospects. Therefore, it might make some sense to pursue petroleum industry tenants, but the Eagle Ford activity is tied to the continued practice of fracking and that’s not even a given.
Ideally, something aviation oriented would help diversify the local economy and add to Chase’s further development. Because of the effects of the Eagle Ford, the community has some cushion from the economic loss of Sikorsky while searching for new tenants.
This Labor Day, however, it would be fitting to remember our friends and neighbors who are impacted by the shutdown. We’re fortunate to have had them in our community.