Boeing’s hunt for a site to produce its forthcoming 777X passenger jet stretches across the country and now includes South Carolina’s neighbor to the north.
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The Charlotte Observer reported the Chicago-based aerospace giant has asked the Queen City to submit a proposal to provide a production site for its new twin-engine commercial aircraft.
What Boeing wants
Boeing Co. is looking for several criteria in the site it selects to build the new 777X passenger jet. According to a copy of the company’s 11-page request for proposal obtained by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch in Missouri, here’s what Boeing wants:
Adjacent to a major international airport
Access to major highway
Direct rail spur
Available, quality workforce (including labor costs)
Stable regulatory environment
Sharing of capital expenditures
Site at no cost, or very low cost, to project.
Facilities at no cost, or significantly reduced cost.
Infrastructure improvements provided by the location
Full support in worker training
Reduced taxes of all kinds (corporate income, franchise, property, sales/use, business license/gross receipts and excise)
Boeing is looking at two construction scenarios:
A single 4.2 million-square-foot facility that would build the entire airplane, costing $7 billion to $10 billion for the building and equipment.
Or two plants in different places: one at 3.1 million square feet, costing $4 billion to $6 billion, for fuselage and final assembly, and a second, 1.1 million-square-foot plant, costing $2 billion to $4 billion, to build 777X’s 114-foot-long, composite carbon wings.
The company wants to start building construction in November 2014 with airplane production in July 2016. The full plant would start with 3,250 employees in 2018 and ramp up to 8,500 by 2024. A wing-only plant would have 1,075 workers to start with and peak at 2,760.
Boeing has sent requests for proposals to at least a dozen sites to see who will offer the best incentives and work environment to produce the next generation of its popular 777 series airplanes. The company is not disclosing which sites it selected to submit bids.
Boeing has given bidders a mid-December deadline to submit their proposals. It will announce its selection early next year.
Boeing is looking for a site with 300 to 400 acres adjacent to a major airport with jet fueling capacity, at least a 9,000-foot runway and access to rail and highways, according to published reports.
With North Carolina’s entry into the race for thousands of high-paying jobs, the number of states seeking a piece of Boeing is now up to nearly a dozen.
Among the other states mentioned as contenders or actively vying for the prize are South Carolina, California, Alabama, Utah, Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington, where lawmakers last month approved $8.7 billion in tax breaks to keep Boeing in the Pacific Northwest.
Boeing opened the bidding competition after the Machinists union in Washington and Oregon in November rejected an extended labor contract that called for concessions in pensions and health benefits. A positive vote would have guaranteed production of the new jet in the Puget Sound area.
Missouri lawmakers are meeting this week to approve up to $1.7 billion in incentives. The Senate passed the measure Wednesday. The House is expected to OK the bill Friday.
Boeing builds the 787 Dreamliner at its campus in North Charleston beside Charleston International Airport, where the company is also amassing 267 acres for undisclosed uses through an arm of the South Carolina Commerce Department. The land deal is expected to close Dec. 13.
While some states are openly courting Boeing, South Carolina remains tight-lipped about its pursuit of the project. A spokeswoman for the Commerce Department declined to comment.
“South Carolina would love the opportunity to build the 777X,” said Sen. Paul Campbell, director of airports at Charleston County Aviation Authority. “South Carolina’s success with Boeing will continue to happen with or without the 777X, but we will make every effort to be competitive for the 777X.”
The company, with much of its airplane production in Washington state, announced in early November that some of the detailed design work, or engineering, for the 777X will be performed in North Charleston, as well as Huntsville, Ala.; Long Beach, Calif; and Philadelphia.
Production on the new airplane could begin by 2017 with the first flight by 2020.
Boeing already has orders for 259 of the new long-range jets.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
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