Boeing ahead of schedule


Boeing Co. is slightly ahead of schedule on construction of its $750 million assembly plant in North Charleston, where it is building a second production line of its hot-selling 787 jet.

The 1.2 million-square-foot factory is expected to open on time, in July 2011, said Marco Cavazzoni, Boeing's vice president and general manager of final assembly and delivery at the company's North Charleston site.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Cavazzoni said a realignment of South Aviation Avenue near the plant site is set to begin in September. The so-called topping out of the steel frame should be completed by October, and the shell of the new building likely will be finished in February, he said.

The first delivery of a completed 787 Dreamliner is set for the first quarter of 2012.

"The first delivery will be a really, really, really big party," Cavazzoni said. "We will shape the perception of South Carolina as an aerospace center."

The new assembly plant will open with 1,000 workers and eventually employ at least 3,800.

Boeing has received 866 orders for the 787 Dreamliner, Cavazzoni said.

The new passenger jet also is being assembled in Everett, Wash. Boeing chose North Charleston last year as the site to duplicate its West Coast 787 operations.

Also on Thursday, the chamber recognized businesses in 13 divisions with its "1773 Award."

Named for the year the chamber was founded, the award recognizes leadership, relevance, integrity, diversity and innovation in different fields. An overall winner will be announced July 9 during the chamber's annual gala.

The winners in their respective industries:

--Communications: Touchpoint Communications

--Construction/real estate: Charleston Trident Association of Realtors

--Educational services: Teachers' Supply Closet

--Finance/insurance: South Carolina Federal Credit Union

--Healthcare: Trident Health System

--Hospitality/Tourism: Charleston RiverDogs

--Manufacturing/processing : Pegasus Steel

--Professional: Lindbergh & Associates

--Nonprofit: Father to Father Project

--Public sector: City of North Charleston

--Retail/wholesale trade: Rick Hendrick Imports

--Scientific/technical services: Scientific Research Corp.

--Diversity: Prudential

Chamber chairman David Maybank III also announced that the 2,000-member chamber has $216,000 to go toward its fundraising goal of $2.54 million by June 30.

Reach Warren Wise at 937-5524 or