Boeing Co. bringing 787 plant to North Charleston

Date: 10/28/2009

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By Molly Parker
mparker@scbiznews.com
Published Oct. 28, 2009

COLUMBIA - With much fanfare, lawmakers just announced that the Boeing Co. is building its second Dreamliner assembly line in North Charleston.

With this announcement, South Carolina has landed one of the biggest economic development deals in recent history. Several thousand new jobs are on the horizon. The marquee company's decision to put an assembly plant here also bodes well for local attempts to launch a major aerospace manufacturing base.

"What it means to our state we can't even calculate today," said Hugh Leatherman, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Today, the House and Senate gave final approval to an incentive package that requires for qualification that a company invest at least $750 million and create 3,800 full-time positions over seven years.

The final vote came on the heels of reports out of Seattle that talks had broken down between Boeing and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Boeing wanted a no-strike agreement. The union walked off the job for two months last year, costing the company millions and delaying production.

In July, a day after Boeing purchased the local aft fuselage facility, an employee here filed for a decertification election that eventually booted the Machinists union out of Charleston.

Washington officials bemoaned the news.

"What's important moving forward is that we all understand why these two parties could not reach an agreement so that we may play a role in rebuilding this relationship," Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said in an announcement.

Approximately 55 airlines have ordered about 840 of the 787 airplanes since the program was launched in 2003.

"Establishing a second 787 assembly line in Charleston will expand our production capability to meet the market demand for the airplane," said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "This decision allows us to continue building on the synergies we have established in South Carolina with Boeing Charleston and Global Aeronautica," he said.

Boeing Charleston performs fabrication, assembly and systems installation for the 787 aft fuselage sections. Across the street, Global Aeronautica, which is 50% owned by Boeing, is responsible for the joining and integration of 787 fuselage sections from other structural partners.

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