Region cheering Boeing decision: 'We're open for business'
June 13, 2008 · Updated 11:27 AM
By ELIZABETH CIEPIELA
Now that Boeing has announced it will assemble the 7E7 jet in Everett and keep that airliners production within the state, will the economic benefits trickle down to Federal Way?
At last count at the end of November, 1,786 Boeing employees live in Federal Way, said company spokesman Peter Conte.
It will benefit the economy certainly, simply because Boeing is making a statement that it is going to be here for a while, said Dick Conway, co-publisher of the Puget Sound Economic Forecaster. It looks like Boeings employment in production is stabilizing, which in itself is real good.
But it will be a couple of years before we see jobs in production associated with the recovery. I think the number of jobs associated with recovery are going to far outweigh the jobs associated with the 7E7.
Conway said Washington had a lot more to lose in this than the other states had to gain. Thats one reason why Washington raised the ante substantially.
The ante was the approximately $3 billion tax cut enacted by Legislature to coax Boeing into choosing Everett.
And while Governor Gary Locke estimated the decision will create 17,000 jobs, others arent sure they agree with that projection.
T.M. Sell, political science instructor at Highline Community College and author of the book, Wings of Power: Boeing and the Politics of Growth in the Northwest, said what passes for economic development in this country is what we just did. I think the benefits are more psychic than tangible, and psychic benefits are not unimportant.
He considers the 17,000 jobs projection optimistic and suggested that the Legislature was essentially forced to create the economic incentive package to cajole Boeing into keeping airplane production in the state.
The state needed to do something because Boeing in particular has been going out of its way to give us a black eye, Sell said.
Others, notably legislators themselves, were earnest and less cynical.
State Rep. Skip Priest of Federal Way, who was part of the legislative committee that put together the state incentives package, said,Its extremely important for the Puget Sound area, as well as the 30th District (which includes Federal Way), that Boeing retain its commitment to produce airplanes in this area.
Boeing has traditionally had a significant multiplier effect, so that every Boeing job means between two or three other jobs are created in the region, Priest added.
And Patrick Doherty, Federal Ways director of economic community development, speculated that the decision announced Tuesday by Boeing officials that the company will begin marketing the 7E7 and hopes to build the first ones in 2007 will indirectly affect the city.
No citys economy is just an island, Doherty said. There are some businesses throughout the region that are subcontractors and providers to Boeing that benefit when Boeing is doing well.
Boeing plans to decide late next year, based on whether theres enough interest among airlines, whether to begin producing the 7E7. Final assembly of the planes would be in Everett.
Tom Pierson, chief executive officer of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, said the 7E7 decision sends a clear message that Washington is open for business, and added that the move should have a ripple effect on the economy.
State Rep. Mark Miloscia, another 30th District legislator, said the Boeing decision reinforces the fact that our efforts here in the Legislature, combined with our highly skilled workforce, are working to keep Washington one of the best places to do business.
We worked hard to keep our state competitive and business-friendly, Miloscia said. This past session, we streamlined regulations, passed pioneering transportation improvements and investments in higher education to help businesses of all sizes.
Not only is this good news for workers in the aerospace industry, but for all our communities that will benefit from the addition of good paying, family-wage jobs.
State Sen. Tracey Eide, also of the 30th District, said Washington has competed globally and won. It should be a sign to companies all over the world that we are open for business in a way that we never have been before.
I voted for a tax package that was vital to our state landing the 7E7, Eide added. Washington winning the 7E7 means thousands of new jobs for our state, and signals the continuation of a strong and successful partnership between Boeing and our state.
U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, whose 9th District constituency includes Federal Way, is pleased with the decision, as well. He said it will be a boost to the region and will have a lasting, positive effect on our states economy and workforce.
Staff writer Elizabeth Ciepiela: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org