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Council approves funds to maintain and expand 737 production in Washington

Summary

Study to focus on how to keep current and next generation production line in region

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council today showed its commitment to supporting and expanding the aerospace presence in the region by unanimously adopting legislation to provide funding to study ways to ensure that production of Boeing 737 aircraft remains in King County.

“Funding the maintenance and potential expansion of the aerospace industry means funding the future of King County,” said Julia Patterson, prime sponsor of the ordinance and Chair of the Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee. “I see these funds as an investment with the potential to yield a return hundreds of times its size in the form of new jobs and tax revenue for public service.”

“The jobs associated with building the next generation Boeing 737 should be a part of our region’s economic future,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, co-sponsor of the ordinance and Chair of the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. “We must come together to show the tremendous assets our region has to offer employers, including a skilled and educated workforce, tremendous natural resources, great quality of life, and investments in public infrastructure.”

“The aerospace industry and Boeing have been a critical part of our community’s economic vitality for decades,” said Council Vice Chair and ordinance co-sponsor Jane Hague. “King County must be a partner with business in increasing our regional competitiveness and encouraging job growth.”

Boeing is researching where to locate the facility that will produce the company’s next generation of its workhorse 737 aircraft, the 737 MAX. By the end of November, it is expected that the State of Washington will present the results “Project Pegasus,” a study identifying the state’s ability to meet the likely requirements for building the new airplane.

“Manufacturing jobs are living-wage jobs that are vital to the economic health of not only King County, but the entire region,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “An investment in trying to keep and possibly expand the aerospace industry and increase the number of manufacturing jobs available is a smart investment in these tough economic times”

“This funding represents the county’s commitment to keeping aerospace jobs in our region,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer.

“As the son of a 40-year Boeing employee, I know that Boeing must continue to be an integral part of our economy and identity as a region,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson. “Our action today is an investment in the future that should pay off by creating good jobs in the aerospace industry in King County.”

“Boeing put Seattle on the map as an innovative region and it remains a central part of our economy. Today Boeing has a lot of choices in a global marketplace,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “The Pegasus Project is the type of government advocacy needed to compete in the 21st century.”

The aerospace industry is vital to the economy of King County and Washington state. Findings from a 2006 Aerospace Futures Alliance of Washington study stated that:

• The aerospace industry employed 65,400 workers;
• The average aerospace annual wage is $83,370 – twice the average wage for all industries in the state;
• More than nine out of ten aerospace jobs were in King (38,800) and Snohomish (23,700) counties;
• Aerospace employment represented 10.2 percent of all employment in King County and 22.9 percent of all employment in Snohomish County.
• Aerospace employment represented nearly three percent of all employment in the rest of the state.

Earlier this month, County Executive Dow Constantine convened a meeting of business, education, and elected leaders to discuss the idea of doing a study of King County and forming a group to promote King County as a desirable place to build the 737 MAX plane. The intent of the “King County Aerospace Alliance” is to compliment the results of Project Pegasus while presenting information to Boeing on why King County would be the best location for the new facility.

The study would examine how the region could strengthen our overall aerospace industry as well as explore the extent to which aerospace firms in King County can expand their business by supplying parts to other foreign airplane manufacturers. Strengths and weaknesses of the County will be identified as well as making recommendations to improve competitiveness.

The legislation adopted by the Council today approves an appropriation of $130,000 to the Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget to help fund both the King County study as well as provide funds to assist the study being conducted for the Pegasus Project.



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206-296-1024
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