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Boeing encourages Pierce County connection

3:00 pm August 21st, 2012

Boeing had some good news to share during the first Pierce County Aerospace Summit.

A top official of the aircraft manufacturer predicted the global market will need 34,000 new airplanes over the next 20 years, and he said aerospace suppliers in Pierce County can help the company compete for that business by providing safe, efficient and reliable product as fast as they can.

That was the message from Drew Magill, director of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, during the industry summit July 27 at University of Washington-Tacoma.

“It’s really important that we increase production rates and deliver these planes at a higher rate and a higher quality,” Magill said in his keynote address. “We’re very confident we can build the most fuel-efficient, most reliable airplanes, and we can be successful in this market for the next 20 years.”

Magill said Boeing is working with suppliers to increase production to address a backlog of 3,900 airplane orders valued at $302 billion. Boeing feels the pressure because it expects more competition from manufacturers in China, Brazil, Canada and Japan, in addition to the fierce rivalry with European manufacturer Airbus.

Magill spoke to an audience of 150 people representing 20 aerospace suppliers plus government agencies, banks, schools and others with connections to the aircraft industry. The summit was organized by Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.

“As Boeing showed us, the supply chain must work together to quickly deliver the planes that are already ordered as well as keep up with increasing global demand,” McCarthy said. “Our goal is to help local companies connect with each other and with available resources so they can tap into the growth of this industry. When they grow, our local economy grows.”

Bruce Kendall and Chris Green, members of the Economic Development Board, highlighted the work of the Tacoma Pierce Aerospace Partners, a new coalition of about 24 organizations. Its goals are for companies to attract new business while developing an online resource for local suppliers at www.aerospacetacomapierce.com.

Summit participants also heard panel discussions about workforce training, taxes and financing, organizational development and resources that are available to the industry locally. Panelists represented WorkForce Central, Invista Performance Solutions, Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition, the state Department of Commerce, U.S. Bank, Moss Adams and General Plastics.

In addition to the Boeing plant that employs about 1,700 people, Pierce County is home to more than 80 companies that work in composites and plastics, tooling, fabrication and machining, software, metals and engineering.

Collaboration among industry, government and education is vital to the local aerospace industry, said Bob Drewel, the Puget Sound Regional Council’s executive director.

“We have the talent, resources and ambition to be global industry leaders for years to come, but we must work together to be successful,” Drewel said.

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