Local and national leaders, including U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, were on hand to welcome a new aviation company that made its official debut Friday at Salina Regional Airport.
At 12:30 p.m. Friday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony for 1 Vision Aviation, an aircraft maintenance company, was held at Hangar 959, also known as "Big Bertha."
Salina Mayor Trent Davis welcomed James Sponder, the company's president and CEO and the employees of 1 Vision.
The hangar had two aircraft the company was servicing in it during the ceremony, and Salina Mayor Trent Davis said people leaving or coming into the city might be on one them.
"It'll be nice to know that somebody close to us will make it airworthy and quite safe," Davis said.
Davis told these new members of the community they will be welcome in the city and will grow to love it.
"After about a year, you're going to probably forget the reason you came here was for the job," Davis said. "You're going to say Salina is just a great place to live."
Moran thanked the company, which began in Iowa. Sponder has decided to move his family here, as well, and Moran told him he has landed in a great place to do that and to continue to grow 1 Vision.
"This is a wonderful place to live, to work and to commit yourself to a quality of life that exists in Salina, in Saline County and in Kansas," Moran said. "Congratulations to you and your decision to be here."
Moran spoke about the history of Kansas, aviation and aerospace being a key component to that, and said he believes the industry to be part of the future of the state, as well.
"The presence of this company here in Salina demonstrates once again that we're on a path that has worked well for Kansas," Moran said. "Your company's growth is something we as a community will make sure happens."
Moran said he believes a company like 1 Vision coming to the area could help show others in the industry the good of coming to the state.
"I think it lends itself toward others now paying attention, more attention than perhaps they have, to Salina and the middle of the country," Moran said. "This is the opportunity for us to make sure the story gets told. There are facilities, there are workers and there are opportunities in Salina, Kansas."
After thanking the city, the senator, the airport and many others for their welcome, Sponder told the crowd about what he thought the first time he saw the hangar his company will now occupy.
"I said to myself, 'Self, we're going to be in this hangar, soon,' " Sponder said. "That was about three years ago, but we're here and I'm excited."
Jon Carver, an 1 Aviation employee, said he is happy to be with the company and is excited to be in Salina.
"It's a positive work environment and it's great to be here," Carver said. "We do a lot of great work, and we could use the more work we can."
Sponder said the company has already hired 50 people and is looking to expand even more, with people calling and applying.
"The phone has been off the hook since we've started," Sponder said. "I don't like saying no, but I've had to say no several times."