Insight: Boeing vote brings out rivals for lucrative jetliner work

Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:13pm EST
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By Alwyn Scott and Harriet McLeod

(Reuters) - State economic officials have jumped at the chance to grab a piece of Boeing's newest jetliner program after a union vote stalled efforts to build the aircraft in Washington state.

Amid a slow U.S. economic recovery and after decades of industrial outsourcing, the race for jobs is intensifying. States are competing fiercely to attract well-paid work, and aerospace manufacturing is especially lucrative.

Washington state estimated the 777X program would deliver $21.3 billion in economic benefits and support more than 56,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state over 16 years.

"We're salivating," Hugh "Trip" Tollison, president of the Savannah Economic Development Authority in Georgia, said in a meeting on Thursday with Reuters. "We all thought this was a done deal for Washington."

The states are getting a shot at the 777X after Boeing Co workers rejected on Wednesday an eight-year extension of their labor contract that along with a package of tax breaks and other incentives would have ensured the 777X and its wings were built in Washington.

On Thursday, Boeing officials were already en route to states to talk about incentives.

"People are on airplanes going to visit competitive states today," said Alex Pietsch, director of the governor's office of aerospace in Washington.

Washington already has studied competing states such as South Carolina, Texas, Kansas, Utah and Southern California to rank their competitiveness, he said. Other states are readying their offers.   Continued...

(L-R) Union leaders Mark Johnson, Tom Wroblewski, Susan Palmer and Rich Michalski announce the results of a union vote while speaking at the International Association of Machinists District 751 Headquarters in Seattle, Washington November 13, 2013. REUTERS/David Ryder