Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Boeing deadline day arrives

Today's the deadline for Charlotte and the dozen or more other interested states and cities to submit applications in hopes of landing the Boeing plant that will build the new 777X airliner. It's perhaps the biggest job recruitment prize to come up for grabs around here in years. If Gov. Pat McCrory and Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker feel good about the locations the state is submitting for Boeing's consideration, they weren't saying yesterday when my colleagues and I asked about it during a Charlotte Chamber event.

Several people I've talked to in N.C. economic development circles privately question whether North Carolina really has a fighting chance. They speculate that Boeing is just shopping the plant around to get the union there in Washington state to accept concessions. (If this letter from an upset Boeing machinist is any guide, the company's ties to the Puget Sound region run extremely deep, and yet union sentiment is strongly against the deal). Judging from this New York Times report, and other things I've read, it appears the machinists feel their experience and expertise in building airplanes make it a risky proposition for Boeing to go elsewhere. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee went so far as to use the words "potential disaster" to describe the kind of delays Boeing has seen at its Charleston, S.C. plant.

Clearly Washington's not letting its largest private employer go without a fight. Lawmakers there last month passed an $8.7 billion incentives package that some call the largest in U.S. history. Is Boeing worth that high a price? I guess we'll see soon enough what North Carolina and Charlotte have to say about that.