SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- Long Beach, a city with a pioneering history in aviation, hopes the 777X can help them claw back some of what it's lost. Utah has industry too and it's growing particularly in the area of composite materials, like those that make up the 787 and will make up the wings of the 777X.
To use an out of season baseball analogy, think of Utah as standing in center field, glove one, looking up and paying attention, ready to catch the deal of the century.
They do a lot of flying around in Salt Lake City. The U.S. Air Force has a base there, and Boeing already has a presence in Utah. Their plant makes parts for the 787, right next to the Salt Lake City Airport.
Boeing’s building was inherited in the McDonnell Douglas merger of 1997. Another down the street was built in recent years. Could Boeing crank out an entire airplane – the 777X - in this state in another six years?
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“The state has a strategy, and this fits into it nicely,” said Matt Mouritsen, associate professor of business at Weber State University.
Mouritsen is part of a program set by the governor to establish Utah as a place to better capture aerospace work, such as providing better training for engineers and technical workers as a jobs generator.
“It's just that the state has been preparing itself to make aerospace welcome in the state of Utah,” said Mouritsen.
Less than 24 hours after Boeing said it was going to look at its options, Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s office confirmed that discussions with Boeing on the 777X had commenced. But then there's the question of whether another state can match the $8.7 billion in tax incentives Washington state has put on the table.
“My guess is that they're having those conversations. Is it surmountable? There are other factors that are not quantitative, quantifiable,” said Mouritsen.
Mouritsen says the question of incentives will be at the governor’s level to come up with. Mouritsen also says there are other factors: Utah is a right-to-work state, one of the things they say will make it cheaper.
Utah officials also say the cost of living in the state is less than Seattle and is actually lower than the national average. They also say they are losing engineers; they don’t have enough high tech jobs to keep the people they are educating at state universities.