Going for Boeing

For more than 50 years, Boeing Co. has been a major player in Alabama’s space and defense industry — designing and building for NASA and the military, and consistently one of the region’s top industrial employers. This fall, Alabama got hungry for even more Boeing.

Workers at Boeing’s massive Washington State plant, which introduced the jumbo jet, rejected a long-term union contract, and the company immediately said it would look elsewhere for a home for its 777x. The company issued a request for formal proposals from states that might be interested — among them California, where McDonnell Douglas, now part of Boeing, once built planes; Missouri, where Boeing builds military aircraft,  and Alabama, with Boeing’s own facilities at the Jetplex, as well as South Carolina, Utah and others.

State officials here and elsewhere began work crafting a packet of incentives. Washington State already approved incentives, and officials there are reportedly working to bring labor and management back into talks, rather than lose the major employer.

And Gov. Robert Bentley was quick to tell company officials that Alabama offers more than just financial incentives — a highly skilled workforce, a business friendly regulatory system and a right-to-work labor environment.

In mid-December, Boeing announced plans to relocate 777x research from Washington state to five new locations, including a 300-400 person group in Huntsville.

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Text by Nedra Bloom

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