Western Washington without The Boeing Company is an absurd statement, or so we all thought before the purchase of the Vought facility in South Carolina last week. When a major Western Washington employer spends over $500 million dollars on a huge facility located on the other side of the country, it should be a wake-up call to many in our state. It is true that Boeing did move their administrative headquarters to Chicago, however, the thought of Boeing planes being built somewhere other than right here, seemed an impossibility only a couple of weeks ago. Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon called the Boeing deal a bold decision and is concerned about the possibility of the company leaving Snohomish County. Frankly, we should all be concerned. “The Boeing Company’s purchase of the Vought facility and a significant portion of adjacent undeveloped property in South Carolina is clearly a bold business decision, and one which signals that Washington state is truly in a competition for the second line of the 787 and all future generations of commercial aircraft,” Reardon said. What will happen to property values, which are already at major lows right now, if hundreds of residents have to pick-up and move to South Carolina or, even worse, lose their jobs? Where would Lake Stevens, Granite Falls and Snohomish County as a whole be financially if Boeing takes jobs to South Carolina?
The state has given Boeing tax breaks and other perks in order to entice them to stay here in the past but with those tax breaks, employees got to keep their jobs, Boeing contractors continued to stay in business and our economy continued to thrive. What will the state do now to ensure that Boeing Company and their jobs stay here for future generations? This isn’t only the state’s problem; the local unions need to step up too. One of the differences between Washington and South Carolina is the unions. Boeing wouldn’t have to fight with unions every few years if they decide to go south. We don’t want Western Washington to become another Detroit, where unions are partly to blame for making it so expensive to do business that automobile companies are fighting to keep their heads above water. “We must do all that is necessary to permanently improve the competitive climate of Washington state and encourage the Boeing Company and their unions to work together to reestablish the effective and successful partnership that has made Boeing Commercial Airplanes a leader throughout the world,” Reardon said. We wouldn’t just lose Boeing jobs with so many companies who contract with and support Boeing here in Snohomish County. If the 787 moves away, what will go next? Let’s hope that our friends and neighbors who work for Boeing and their contractors, will be able to continue to live here, work here and spend money here to keep our communities flourishing.