SEATTLE - Boeing executives could well have been deciding this week which state outside of Washington to build the 777X airliner or at least where to build its new long composite carbon fiber wing.
Now, following a narrow vote by machinists Friday to approve an eight-year contract extension with Boeing, the 777X airplane and its new high tech wing will be built in Washington state. That leaves 21 other states out of the running, at least for the big pieces of the jet that Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief Ray Conner says will now be built in Washington.
Publicly at least, no one is expressing sour grapes for the loss. Instead, the results are met with resolve to make their states more competitive when it comes to the next industrial prize or simple silence.
That is certainly the case in Missouri, where Boeing builds fighter jets on the north side of St. Louis’ international airport. Like Washington, Missouri conducted the only public process in deciding how much in taxes to give up to win the 777X and thousands of manufacturing jobs. That number came to around $3.5 billion between the state of Missouri and St. Louis County.
On Tuesday, Missouri Republican House Speaker Tim Jones said Missouri must take an all-encompassing approach to creating an attractive business climate. In a statement, the speaker said Missouri must enhance its business climate by promoting free market principles, including lower taxes and making it the 25th so called right-to-work state in the country. Long debated in Missouri, right-to-work allows employees the option of opting out of union membership.
Missouri’s Democratic Governor Jay Nixon called his state’s proposal to win the work “nationally-recognized” that made the state one of the finalists.
It is not known how many states Boeing’s search team had narrowed the field. But KING 5 learned that just before the Christmas the list of 22 states was narrowed to around 10, and that the site selection process did not stop during the company’s traditional Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day holiday break.
Many members of the Machinists Union who voted against Boeing’s offer on January 3 are convinced that Boeing would have kept 777X assembly in Everett along with its wing despite threats Boeing would take the work elsewhere.
But while other states look cut out of the big prizes, including assembly and wing production, Boeing has other smaller packages of work to spread around, so other states may not be completely shut out. KING 5 News has learned that those decisions are expected to be made in a few more months.
States and cities speculated to be highly competitive in the race for the 777X included Long Beach, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Antonio, Texas; Huntsville, Alabama; St. Louis, Missouri and Charleston, South Carolina.