Legislation that would give the Boeing aerospace corporation $120 million in incentives for its expansion plans in North Charleston is one vote away from reaching the governor’s desk. The House voted 115-2 Wednesday to approve a bond that would pay for the incentives. Another vote would send it to Gov. Nikki Haley, who is expected to sign it. The Senate approved the measure last week.
Wednesday’s vote came moments after House Speaker Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston) took the floor to strongly pushed adeal he helped negotiate with Sen. Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence). “It allows for us to spend $120 million on infrastructure to help them. By that, I mean to be able to purchase the land and do the improvements to the land.”
Boeing announced last week it will invest another $1 billion and create 2,000 new jobs over eight years. The Boeing complex near the Charleston International Airport already employs about 6,000 people. Harrell said the incentives hinge on Boeing meeting those goals, or else the company would have to pay the state back the $120 million.
Harrell said he understands Boeing wants to build a paint center and a research & development facility at the North Charleston site.
Two Republicans voted against the bill. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-Tega Cay), a developer in his private life, said he had questions about the price of the land and supporting infrastructure. Norman criticized the quick passage of the bill, which was only introduced on April 10. “There are people who get $1,000 loans from banks with more scrutiny,” he said. Norman was joined by Rep. Bill Chumley (R-Woodruff)
The bonds would need to be approved a third time Thursday before heading to the governor’s desk.