Boeing announces $1 billion more to SC plant

By Eric

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- It's the biggest announcement made by Boeing since it first decided to build an assembly plant in the Lowcountry, in 2009. Tuesday, the aerospace company recommitted itself to South Carolina, to the tune of $1 billion.

The amount of money and the thousands of jobs are the big headline, but it also assures Boeing will stay in North Charleston for a long, long time.

Controversy over bad batteries and grounded planes were nowhere near enough to keep Boeing South Carolina from soaring.

"We're making an additional commitment, another $1 billion-plus in investment and an additional creation of over 2,000 more jobs," said Boeing representative, Jack Jones.

The company announced it will put that investment into the North Charleston plant, over the next eight years.

Before a room full of aerospace vendors in downtown Charleston Tuesday, Gov. Nikki Haley called the commitment priceless.

"We build planes, we build cars, we build tires," said Haley. "What Boeing did was validate that we are now a manufacturing state."

"I would say it would be a no-brainer to incentivize Boeing to come here to South Carolina and further expand," said state Secretary of Commerce Robert Hitt.

The state, meantime, is working on an incentive package of $120 million to help Boeing with infrastructure costs. The growth that will follow, leaders said, has already taken off. There's expansion at the assembly facility and the Dreamlifter operation center.

The new money will also breed new ideas.

"We've got some IT type skill that's moving down, haven't committed to the exact number of heads but we know we're going to lease some space off site at least temporarily," Jones said. "Activity is picking up definitely in the Boeing company."

There are no set plans for that 320 acres of airport property Boeing just bought, but officials say it's just another example of their pledge to make Dreamliner airplanes in North Charleston.

North Charleston workers assemble about one Dreamliner every month. Their goal is to eventually make three.

The infrastructure bill is already being fast-tracked through the Statehouse and could be passed into law as early as next week. The legislation was introduced on Tuesday, passed the Senate and will head to the House floor for debate next Tuesday.

"This legislation is about jobs and our state's responsibilities when it comes to core economic infrastructure needs.{} That is why we have set this economic development bill on a fast track to become law.{} The Senate deserves real credit for swiftly getting this important job creating legislation to the House, particularly Senator Hugh Leatherman who has always been a dependable leader when it comes to job creation," said Speaker Bobby Harrell.


Political Reaction

Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell: "Having worked on this project with several other state leaders, the announcement of Boeing's Phase II expansion is a very exciting realization. Phase II of Boeing's footprint in South Carolina represents an investment in our state for the long term.{} Important to all of South Carolina is not only the expansion, but the probability of an aviation supply chain across all of South Carolina to the Boeing facilities.{} South Carolina is now fully airborne in the aviation industry future.{} Phase II lifts Boeing from the game changer to the life changer for South Carolina."

Sen. Lindsey Graham: "Today's decision validates my belief South Carolina is the best place in the country to do business.{} This is huge news for our economy.{} It also shows that Boeing made the right decision to locate in South Carolina.{} I look forward to the continued strong, mutually beneficial relationship between Boeing, the local workforce, and the state of South Carolina in years to come."

State Speaker Bobby Harrell:{}

"Boeing is doing very well in South Carolina, and South Carolina is doing very well because of Boeing.{}{} Boeing's commitment to our state and to our workforce has done nothing but exceed expectations and grow stronger since breaking ground in 2009.{}

"From the start, this has been a true partnership between Boeing and South Carolina.{} As a Legislature, it's our job to create an environment that fosters economic growth so the private sector can do what government can't, create sustainable new jobs.{}

"That is why today, Senator Leatherman and I are introducing companion legislation in the House and Senate that will fund in part the core state infrastructure development to make these 2,000 new jobs and additional billion dollars in private investment possible.{} At the time of its introduction, the House bill (H. 3900) already had wide bipartisan support with over 40 co-sponsors.{}

"Our total state infrastructure commitment enabling this site to double its current footprint amounts to barely ten percent of the additional private investment being made by Boeing.{} These are exactly the kind of highly skilled, high paying jobs our state wants.{} Needless to say, this is a great infrastructure investment for our entire state that will create exciting new opportunities for our citizens and will provide our state with huge returns.{}

"The hardworking South Carolinians employed at Boeing, and the many aerospace suppliers that have also located here, deserve real credit for these expansions.{} This latest announcement further confirms to the entire world the caliber of our state's workforce and the monumental things they can achieve."

Elizabeth Colbert Busch:{} "This is a wonderful day for the hardworking people of South Carolina, and it just goes to show the success we can have when the public and private sectors work together. As a businesswoman who supports and is committed to workforce development, this is exactly the kind of project we need. As your member of Congress, I'll work to make sure even more employers come to our state.

{}"I applaud Boeing for its investment in South Carolina, and I am confident that the quality of our workforce, our business climate and our prospects will only encourage more employers to come here and expand their operations. With Boeing's growth and the investments in South Carolina from the energy economic cluster that we teamed up to build, we have the opportunity for tremendous synergy to create good jobs here.

{}"Boeing is a tremendous partner, whether it's investing in research or collaborating with the community. They are committed to our children and continuing education to ensure the South Carolina workforce is prepared for the 21st century economy."

Former Gov. Mark Sanford: "With{}Boeing{}now looking to add another 2,000 jobs in North Charleston, South Carolina simply cannot afford to gamble on a Congresswoman with such close ties to the very people who sought to have{}Boeing{}pack up and leave town," Sanford said. "I think Elizabeth{}Colbert{}Busch{}owes it to the district to let people know whose side she is on - the side of those who would create jobs in South Carolina, or the side of those who would take them away. Further, to remove any cloud about the influence of anti-Boeing special interests in the race, I call on my opponent to return all the contributions she has received from these unions, and not accept any more. I would normally not call for such an action, but given the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) was the very union to bring the complaint against{}Boeing{}to the NLRB, I don't know how you could be pro-jobs, while accepting IAMAW money, given their stand against{}Boeing{}here in Charleston."