Boeing Co. has picked a site in North Charleston for a new factory that will design and make engine inlet components for the 737 MAX, its first major investment in the region not tied to the 787 jetliner.
The aerospace giant plans to build the previously announced propulsion design and assembly plant in Palmetto Commerce Park, between Ladson and Ashley Phosphate roads.
The 48-acre site is next door to Boeing’s two-year-old Interiors Responsibility Center, which makes bins, partitions and other parts for the 787 Dreamliner.
While the future neighbors will support different jets, “I’m sure we’ll see some synergies there,” said Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman Candy Eslinger.
Work is expected to begin on the year-long construction project this fall, she said Friday. Manufacturing is scheduled to start at the 220,000-square-foot factory in mid-2015.
The engine inlet design unit that will be based in the building is already ramping up in office space Boeing is renting off Leeds Avenue in North Charleston.
The company announced the propulsion plant earlier this year. It will handle the engineering and assembly of the 737 MAX nacelles, which include the circular inlets and carbon-reinforced composite pods that encase the engines.
“This is Boeing’s first non-787 work that’s coming to South Carolina,” Eslinger said.
The number of jobs it will create has not been finalized, she said.
“It’s still kind of early in the process,” Eslinger said.
The 737 MAX is the updated version of Boeing’s top-selling single-aisle jet.
The Chicago-based planemaker employs about 6,000 workers in the region. Most are based at the Dreamliner campus at Charleston International Airport.
Boeing solicited bids from real estate firms for the propulsion plant site in July.
Its decision to pick Pattillo Construction’s proposal wasn’t a complete surprise. The Georgia-based company, which for years has been one of the most active developers at Palmetto Commerce Park, built the 787 Interiors Responsibility Center for Boeing.
Reach John McDermott at 937-5572.
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