Spirit AeroSystems is exploring the sale of its Oklahoma facilities, including locations in Tulsa and McAlester.The Kansas-based aircraft parts manufacturer said they have started a process to divest its Oklahoma operations.Last month, the company announced that it would lay off about 360 support and management employees at its Oklahoma and Kansas facilities.Spirit employs about 2,700 people at the Tulsa & McAlester facilities.Spirit Aerosystems spokesperson Mark Walker said Spirit is aiming to determine where the company can best differentiate itself in the aerostructures marketplace. Spokesperson Ken Evans said the two sites will inevitably "generate significant interest among potential buyers."Several workers expressed their surprise and uncertainty with the situation."Our bosses tell us one thing. The rumors are another thing. You don't know what to think," said worker Randy Rowe.Mayor Dewey Bartlett and the Tulsa Regional Chamber held a press conference Tuesday afternoon, where they said the city will embrace whomever the new owner of the facilities are."In my view, we don't need to get worried," said Bartlett. "We have a very strong aviation, aerospace industry, and it will continue the same."Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, said the following in a statement:"Spirit AeroSystems has been a valued employer in the Tulsa region for more than 8 years. While the company has announced it will explore plans to sell its Oklahoma operations, there are many variables at play and it is too early to speculate what will be the final outcome. In the event the company sells its Tulsa operations, the Chamber, City of Tulsa and other workforce and economic development partners across the region will remain engaged in encouraging buyers to continue investment in the Tulsa operations and our highly-skilled aerospace and manufacturing workforce currently working at the plant. Many of these same experienced workers have long been a part of our community, working at the plant years before Spirit's arrival under companies like Boeing and prior to that, Rockwell and McDonnell Douglas. We are encouraged to hear Spirit's CEO Larry Lawson publicly acknowledge today the Tulsa plant is performing very well and improving. We realize companies across the world routinely explore possible divestitures for a multitude of reasons, and we will remain hopeful this process will result in a positive outcome for the Tulsa region."For the complete statement from the company: http://www.spiritaero.com/Media.aspxTulsa's Channel 8 will have more on this developing story tonight at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
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