Boeing plans to concentrate half of its information technology work in three places, and North Charleston is one of them.
The details of the multi-year restructuring are still being worked out, Boeing spokesmen emphasized, but it’s another indication that South Carolina figures prominently in the future of the Chicago-based aerospace giant.
Andrew Favreau, a company spokesman, said the motivation for the move is “to help us meet increased demand for our IT services across the company without really increasing the cost.”
“We’re really just trying to streamline how we operate,” Favreau said.
The company envisions creating some 50 “centers of excellence,” which would bring together people with similar specialties, like infrastructure, in one place. Boeing has about 7,900 IT employees, Favreau said.
The local hub will be based in 32,000 square feet of leased space at 3875 Faber Place, a building just south of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner complex along I-526. Candy Eslinger, another company spokesman, noted that is the same address where Boeing leased offices prior to moving into the massive final assembly building in 2011.
Boeing announced the IT restructuring plan to employees last week, and it was reported by The Seattle Times on Monday evening.
Favreau said the company is still studying “work statements” and “staffing” needs that will determine exactly how it plays out and that there is no timeline yet for when these centers would start or become fully formed.
“Right now we’re looking at it as potentially a 3-year journey,” he said.
He did not know how many new positions might be created in Charleston or how many IT specialists in North Charleston now could be asked to move.
“There will be new employees who come into the site, either new to Boeing or relocated, but how many there are, who they are, and what their IT specializations are is not known now because it’s too early to tell,” he said.
The Seattle Times story also said Boeing’s IT staff could be reduced by as much as 10 percent as part of the restructuring, that Boeing expects to increase its outsourcing of IT work by about 5 percent, and that some remaining employees will be reclassified to lower-level positions.
Besides North Charleston, the other two IT centers will be in the company’s historic base in Puget Sound and in its military headquarters of St. Louis. The other half of Boeing’s IT work will “remain collocated geographically where we are producing products and services and where we are supporting external customers,” Favreau said.
The IT restructuring is one of several recent large-scale personnel shifts at the company. Boeing has been whittling its contractor count at its North Charleston plant for months now and last week told its main blue-collar union that there could be 800 members laid off this year as plane production work increases and becomes more efficient.
Meanwhile, Boeing just settled on a price — $12.5 million — to buy 320 acres across International Boulevard from its North Charleston 787 complex. That plant has also been expanding the buildings on its site as part of an effort to increase 787 production.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 and follow him on Twitter at @kearney_brendan.