Boeing, the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft, will be locating an assembly line in North Charleston. The Seattle Times reported previously that there are least 900 new jobs connected with the new facility. State lawmakers say within five years that investment could total 3,800 jobs and $750 million in investment, according to incentives approved this week by the General Assembly. Chicago-based Boeing has an original facility near Seattle and there’s no current plan to move it. What South Carolina has won is a new assembly line for its 787 jets.
State Senate Finance Chair Hugh Leatherman made the announcement on the floor of the Senate late Wednesday.
“Boeing is a worldclass company and I look foward to some fruitful years, for Boeing as well as South Carolina,” said the Florence Republican. “I believe that what has happened here today will change our state forever, for generations, and I’m excited to have been a small part of this.”
Senate President Pro Temp Glenn McConnell of Charleston worked on the incentives package along with Leatherman.
“This is a transformational day for South Carolina,” said McConnell. “It’s history. We now launch ourselves into the aerospace industry and the 21st century. And it comes about from investments this legislature has made, everything from our technical education system to our Finance Committee Chair to invest in a knowledge-based economy and make us competitive.”
McConnell gave much of the credit for snagging the plant to Leatherman.
State officials began working on drawing the project this past summer. McConnell said that he and Senator Leatherman met on a Saturday morning to work out some figures and quickly came to realize what Boeing would mean for the Palmetto State.
McConnell says it got the assembly line because it acted quickly: “And the process we have in this allows us to adjust to changing conditions. And that’s what we have here. We were able to move and put things out there to attract business and reset the course of this state.”
Boeing decided recently that it would locate the facility either in South Carolina, or keep it near the existing facility near Seattle. North Charleston already has two plants where 2,500 employers make and assemble pieces of the 787. Boeing ownes one of those facilities and half of another. The 787’s are assembled in the Seattle suburb of Everett. The Seattle Times reported that a second line is needed because production is a few years behind schedule.
The Seattle Times reported Tuesday that discussions between Boeing and the Machinists union over the second 787 production line in the Seattle area are effectively dead. Talks broke down over a proposed potential 10-year no-strike agreement. Workers in North Charleston threw out the Machinists union last month. Deliveries of the high-tech 787 were postponed repeatedly due to manufacturing glitches and an eight-week labor strike.
The South Carolina Senate on Tuesday passed an incentive package providing sales tax exemptions for companies creating at least 3,800 jobs, that would allow the issuance of $170 million of economic development bonds. But the legislation was generic. Until Wednesday evening, there has been no mention of Boeing.
The 787 will carry 200 to 250 passengers. The company says the new airplane is more efficient, quieter and will have lower emissions than other airplanes and offer more direct, nonstop flights between cities.
Approximately 55 airlines have so far ordered 840 787’s since the line was started in 2003.