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Possible Boeing move worries Washington state

By Kirk Johnson
New York Times
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/10/18/54/1m0fpn.Em.138.jpeg|316
    Mike Kane - BLOOMBERG
    An employee works on the nose of a Boeing 777 airplane at the company’s facility in Everett, Wash. The next generation of airplane may be built in a different state.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/10/18/54/1oFxkb.Em.138.jpeg|210
    Mike Kane - BLOOMBERG
    A nearly completed Boeing Co. 777 reaches the end of a moving production line at the company's facility in Everett, Washington.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/10/18/54/1hF9TT.Em.138.jpeg|210
    Patrick T. Fallon - BLOOMBERG
    A worker assembles a Boeing Co. 777 airplane at the company's production facility in Everett, Wash. Where the company will build its next generation of commercial airplane, the 777X, is up for grabs

More Information

  • Charlotte touts airport site for Boeing plant
  • Editorial: Don’t be seduced, N.C. job recruiters
  • Development: Boeing deadline day arrives
  • Charlotte offering Boeing land near airport

    Charlotte’s bid for a new Boeing jetliner plant will include details about an available site near Charlotte Douglas International Airport, officials have told the Observer.

    The Charlotte City Council discussed the city’s bid to land the plant for a new 777X jetliner during a closed session Monday night, the officials said. The city and state haven’t offered a specific dollar amount for the incentives needed to land the plant.

    Boeing asked cities to submit their proposals by Tuesday, according to documents obtained by the Observer. The company is seeking a 300- to 400-acre site and wants the land and facilities at little to no cost, along with infrastructure improvements paid for by the state or local governments, tax breaks and accelerated permitting.

    An N.C. Commerce Department spokesman declined to comment on Tuesday. Boeing, which is not disclosing any of the locations, “started receiving proposals this week and will begin looking them over in the coming days,” company spokesman Doug Alder said.

    Greensboro’s Piedmont Triad International Airport and Kinston’s Global TransPark are also possible N.C. locations for the plant.

    Rick Rothacker



EVERETT, Wash. Riveters once ruled here, as Boeing airplanes rolled off the line and into the sky from giant factories where rivers of aluminum were pounded into form and function. And Boeing, founded in nearby Seattle in 1916 in the era of the Sopwith Camel, returned the favor, building up the Puget Sound region as a blue-collar powerhouse from the 1940s through the commercial jet age. Almost half of the company’s 171,000 employees still call Washington state home.

But the next chapter of that old relationship has now become a cliffhanger of politics, economics and perhaps, some suspect, brinkmanship and bluff. Where the company will assemble its next generation of commercial airplane, the 777X – which only a few months ago looked locked-down certain to be in Everett, Wash. – is now up for grabs, with a national scramble of states and cities, including North Carolina, bidding for Boeing’s hand with tax breaks, incentives and promises of labor congeniality.

With a deadline looming this week for best offers, and a decision promised by the company early next year, tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wages and taxes are at stake, along with the identity of a region that long ago claimed the jet age as its symbol, in Seattle’s revolving Space Needle.

“It would be the death spiral of aerospace in Washington state,” said Ray Stephanson, Everett’s mayor, contemplating the possibility of Boeing’s building the 777X in some other state. As he spoke in his office, a scale model 777-300, angled as though in takeoff, sat by a window. “There’s a tremendous amount of anxiety.”

Boeing had conditions from the beginning on the 777X: big incentives from the state of Washington and big givebacks by its largest union here, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The state came through, delivering in a special session of the Legislature a package worth $8.7billion through 2040. But union members balked, voting down last month a contract extension that would have frozen their pensions. So Boeing began sending out requests for proposals to more than a dozen states and cities around the nation.

State legislators in Missouri last week went into special session and delivered a $1.7billion Christmas gift should Boeing come their way. Economic development officials in North Carolina, Alabama, Kansas and Utah – Boeing has declined to provide a full list of suitors – were putting together bids, too, and bragging about their respective environments of can-do optimism.

“It’s our job to sell them our area and tell a story,” said Thomas Battle, the mayor of Huntsville, Ala., one of the places Boeing contacted as a possible new partner. “They’ve asked for a good community, one that works with you, one that has a high level of education, that supports their workforce and makes it easy for them to recruit.”

But Washington state officials said they believe their region has aces in the hole that will ultimately prevail: experience in producing airplanes under deadline conditions and closer proximity than most of the competition to Asian suppliers and customers, an important consideration for ocean-borne freight shipment.

Boeing has already moved thousands of jobs away from Washington in recent years and has said that diversification is a long-term corporate strategy. Its new 787 Dreamliners are built in South Carolina, and in 2001 the company moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago.

“Puget Sound is probably going to face a reality not unlike what Michigan faces: ‘You guys have to come in at a reasonable price, because we can move our stuff to other places,’” said David Gillen, a professor of economics and director of the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of British Columbia.

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