For states angling to land Boeing's newest aircraft assembly plant, Tuesday is the day when they must -- to use an old Southern turn of phrase -- "fish or cut bait."
If they're fishing, the lures they expect to use -- huge tax breaks, free land and buildings, training for aerospace workers, infrastructure improvements, union-hostile environments -- are expected to set records.
Already, Washington State has approved an $8.7 billion tax break, the largest tax break in industrial history, to persuade Boeing to build its new 777X in the Evergreen State, and other states including Missouri have have gone to their legislatures to create new tax breaks of their own for the aerospace company.
Other states haven't been so public about the bait they're using to attract Boeing's new plant, but they're assuring their constituents they will be competitive.Boeing asked 15 states to submit proposals, and several others not among the invited few, including Wisconsin, have said they'll submit their proposals too.
Boeing's requirements include a site adjacent to at least a 9,000-foot-long runway, a rail line to the plant site, access to a seaport, free or low-cost land, across-the-board tax breaks, training for potential aerospace workers, reasonably priced labor and a modern infrastructure to serve the plant.
The winner will receive a plant that will employ some 8,500 workers by 2024. That plant is expected to attract other aerospace suppliers who will supply the assembly line and composite wing manufacturing facility. The total costs for those two plants is expected to reach $10 billion.
Southern right-to-work states, where unions face barriers to organizing, are expected to be the majority of the states seeking the Boeing facility.Among those states are South Carolina, where Boeing already has a 787 assembly line, Alabama, where Boeing has a space center at Huntsville and Airbus has a new assembly plant, Texas, where Boeing maintains Air Force tankers, Utah, where the company is building composite parts for the 787 and North Carolina, where Boeing partner Spirit Aerosystems builds parts for Airbus.
The plant was put in play when Boeing union machinists last month rejected an 8-year labor contract that would have guaranteed Boeing would build the 777X in the same plant in Everett where it assembles the 777.
Despite the union rejection, local economic development officials maintain Washington is the best site for the 777X. The plant already exists. Workers are trained and experienced. The site has a direct rail line from a Puget Sound pier to the Everett Paine Field factory. The state has enacted a huge tax break.
Boeing expects to make a site decision early next year.