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Boeing To Decide On Site For Airliner Work In Early 2014;
Long Beach Positions Itself For Selection

By Samantha Mehlinger - Publisher

December 17, 2013 – A final decision on site selection for work on The Boeing Company’s 777X airliner is expected by early next year, according to Doug Alder, spokesperson for Boeing.

The aerospace company planned to locate this work in Puget Sound, Washington, but a potential deal with the local division of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) & Aerospace Workers fell through in November.

Last week, Boeing presented a “best and final counterproposal” to the union, but that, too, was rejected. Boeing then announced that a site section process is ongoing.

Long Beach is pursuing bringing the 777X assembly work to the city, where work on the C-17 Globemaster III is ending in 2015. That facility and its workforce could provide Boeing an opportunity to house the 777X work. But the lead effort for California is through the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), which submitted a proposal to Boeing. Mike Rossi, Gov. Jerry Brown’s senior advisor for jobs and business development, issued the following statement to the media: “Based on our skilled workforce, existing manufacturing base and targeted business incentives, California is in a strong position to compete. We will continue to work closely with the Legislature, local officials and Boeing to bring new jobs and investment to California.”

Clues for what Boeing is looking for in a work site have been reported by other media outlets, which cite Boeing documents sent to states gunning for the assembly work. The documents suggest Boeing is seeking a low- or no-cost site with facilities for a 4.2-million-square-foot operation. The company’s needs may include a 9,000-foot-long runway, easy highway and road access, and an area with low business costs related to labor, real estate occupancy, construction and taxes. Direct access to rail and proximity to a seaport, among other things, may also be desirable. Alder said he could not confirm these details, nor could he provide the source documents, as they are confidential.

Long Beach is equipped with a port, easy and considerable rail access, an existing Boeing assembly facility and an existing Boeing labor force. However, its C-17 facility is only about one million square feet.

A California congressional delegation lead by Congressman Alan Lowenthal is lobbying to locate the 777X work in Long Beach. In a letter to Boeing CEO W. James McNerney, Jr., Lowenthal highlighted Long Beach’s assets, including “one of the most modern ports in the world” and “a highly developed local and regional system of parts and component suppliers,” according to a release from his office.

The Long Beach City Council recently adopted a resolution expressing its full support for Boeing to bring 777X work to Long Beach.

Still, the competition is steep. “In an overwhelmingly strong response from interested participants, Boeing has received proposals from 22 states, many of which submitted multiple sites for consideration,” Alder told the Business Journal. “A total of 54 sites are now being evaluated in the next critical stage of the process.” Alder would not disclose the names of these locations.

Several aviation/aerospace consultants have said that “right-to-work” states – which place limits on union agreements with employers – have the edge over locations such as Long Beach. More than 20 states have right-to-work laws in place, including Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Idaho and Wyoming in the West, nearly all of the Southern states, and the heartland from Texas to North Dakota. Michigan and Indiana passed “right-to-work” laws in 2012. In the recent past, Boeing has relocated work from Southern California to states such as Oklahoma, a right-to-work state.