A place built to protect America from foreign fighting forces now serves as the springboard for Oklahoma to connect with a global economy.
It is called Tinker Air Force Base, and the Oklahoma City installation today employs more than 26,000 military and civilian workers. Increasingly, these employees are engaged in efforts that not only keep America free, but also keep it engaged in international commerce.
Tinker is the largest single-site employer in Oklahoma, boasting an annual statewide economic impact of $3.6 billion. An estimated 33,000 secondary jobs are created by the activity that takes place at Tinker, which stretches across 5,424 acres and has 462 buildings.
Tinker began in 1940 when a group of Oklahoma City civic and business leaders learned that the US War Department was looking for a central US location for a maintenance and supply depot. On April 8, 1941, the order was officially signed awarding the installation to Oklahoma City.
A series of recent project announcements has positioned Tinker to be one of America’s most important locations for global trade.
In 2008, voters in Oklahoma County approved a bond referendum to secure the shuttered General Motors plant and create the Tinker Aerospace Complex. Today, Tinker employees continue to fill that old GM plant.
The Air Force spent $80 million over two years to renovate and equip the 3.8-million-sq.-ft. plant that was adjacent to the base but is now part of Tinker.
Tinker acquired land from BNSF Railway to create a facility for the Air Force’s next generation of aerial refueling aircraft, the KC-46A Pegasus. The base is among four locations nationwide that are in the running to house the KC-46A Pegasus.What began during World War II with workers at Tinker repairing B-24 and B-17 bombers and fitting B-29s for combat has evolved to keep pace with today’s military and commercial landscapes. Today, workers at Tinker still keep Americans safe; but they also keep international dollars flowing through Oklahoma.
Opportunities abound in Oklahoma as new alliances, technologies and programs bring big ideas, skilled workers and financial incentives to The Sooner State.