Officials from Boeing visited Iowa Wednesday for a public rally with Rockwell Collins executives, as the two companies are seeking a federal government contract to build airborne refueling tankers for the military. The NewGen Tanker is described as a “gas station in the sky” for combat aircraft. Rockwell Collins officials say if the two companies get the contract, it could bring 800 jobs and $40 million to Iowa.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett says it could be a big boost to the economy. “A lot of times people don’t realize that one, you create a job, but what that does is it has a ripple effect because there are other companies within Cedar Rapids and eastern Iowa that are suppliers and vendors to Rockwell Collins,” Corbett says. “And it’s something that we just desperately need to help us in our economic recovery and our flood recovery.”
Robert Becker runs a business in Cedar Rapids that supplies components to Rockwell Collins. “We had to lay off some people the last couple years. We are now in the mode of actually looking for a machinist and this is because we have more work…It’s very real that when Rockwell gets these big contracts and it flows down to all these vendors,” he says. “It’s real and it’s palatable.” Rockwell Collins and Boeing submitted their bid for the project in July.
The companies are competing against a European company for the contract, which Air Force officials may award by the end of the year.