The Lowcountry hasn’t finished celebrating Phase 1 of Boeing’s local presence, and now there’s a Phase 2 on the way. It’s more good news from the international aeronautics giant.
Already employing 6,000 people here, Boeing has pledged to add 2,000 new jobs by the year 2020. And to invest another $1 billion.
The company’s confidence in its North Charleston home reflects the region’s economic strengths.
As House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, said, “Boeing is doing very well in South Carolina, and South Carolina is doing very well because of Boeing.”
Major announcements like Boeing’s don’t just happen. The state has to be in the game — in this case come up with $120 million to offset some of Boeing’s up-front expansion costs like site preparation, road work and utility expenses.
States that want to attract industry know incentives are part of the cost of success. And so is providing accountability for their use. In this case, it should be a safe investment. The first round of incentives South Carolina provided for Boeing in 2009 — $450 million — has paid off. Boeing has exceeded its promised jobs numbers and investment significantly.
In a few short years, Boeing has helped transform the area’s economic landscape and put North Charleston on the international business map. Air travel to and from Charleston has increased.
Related businesses are taking note. Meanwhile, colleges are stepping up their programs to meet the company’s needs. And Boeing’s South Carolina presence has boosted expectations throughout a state where many counties continue to suffer double digit unemployment.
Boeing hasn’t publicly revealed its plans, but a portion of the state funds will be used to buy 320 acres adjacent to its plant. It has agreed to purchase the land from the Charleston County Aviation Authority.
One likelihood is a planned expansion of its information technology division. Another possibility is a further increase in Boeing’s 787 assembly output, expected to reach three Dreamliners a month by year’s end. Phase 2 could signal an even higher production rate.
The Senate gave initial approval to the incentive package on Wednesday. The House is expected soon to follow suit.
That support recognizes the phenomenal results in jobs that the state’s investment in Boeing already has helped produced. Ancillary economic development is sure to follow.
As an economic coup for our community and state, this one just keeps on giving.
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