By Pat Jenkins
Pierce County officials are taking the high road after being turned down by Boeing as the place where the company will build wings for its 777X airliner.
Everett in Snohomish County came out on top in the wooing of the airplane manufacturer, but there is still reason for optimism about Boeing’s presence here, said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy.
During the process that ended in mid-February with the anointing of Everett, “I met with senior Boeing leadership and received personal assurances” that its existing plant in Frederickson “will be a big part” of Boeing’s future plans, McCarthy said.
She noted the company has about 1,800 employees in Frederickson and room to expand, “and the local network of suppliers and aerospace training programs ensures our important place in the global supply chain.. I assured Boeing that Pierce County is ready” if and when the company decides “to utilize the undeveloped land it owns here.”
The Frederickson site, which produces parts for two other Boeing aircraft, ranked below Everett because of its distance from the final-assembly facilities in Everett for the 777X. Industry analysts suggested moving the wings from south Pierce County would have been more time-consuming and expensive.
That view appeared to be endorsed by Ray Conner, president of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division, when he said locating the wing plant in Everett will mesh with the facilities and “logistics system” already in place there.
“This decision will strengthen the company’s competitiveness and help it grow for the long term,” Conner said.
The size of the new facility will be approximately 1 million square feet. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year, according to Boeing officials.
Like state leaders and Washington’s congressional delegation, McCarthy was happy the plant will be in Washington and not another state.
“Our top goal all along was to keep Washington at the epicenter of the aerospace industry, and we have succeeded,” McCarthy said.
State Sen. Randi Becker, a Republican from Eatonville, hoped Boeing would pick Pierce County for the wing assembly plant. But, she said, “the bottom line is that thousands of families will soon have employment opportunities that perhaps they were unable to find before.”
Becker noted that Pierce County has 15 aerospace businesses related to aerospace. Aerospace-related wages in the county top $253 million annually and account for nearly 4,000 jobs