Utah Governor Gary Hebert says Boeing officials spoke with him yesterday to ask if the state would be interested in assembling the new 777X airplane, a proposition that could have an economic impact for the state in the billions of dollars.
The possibility of fabricating Boeing’s latest version of the 777 airplane here in Utah is the result of failed contract negotiations between Boeing and the union that runs their facilities in Washington state. Shortly after the union voted down the proposed contract extension, Boeing President and CEO Ray Conner said, “without the terms of this contract extension, we’re left with no choice but to open the process competitively and pursue all options.”
But the state of Washington is doing its best to make sure the new plane is built there, despite the failed contract negotiations. The state legislature recently passed a law that extends nearly $8.7 billion in tax breaks to the company if assembly and wing fabrication for the 777X is done exclusively in the state. Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s spokesman, David Postman, says he’s confident Boeing will keep production in Washington.
“I think we’ve made a great start with the package of incentives that the legislature overwhelmingly passed last week," Postman says. "And frankly, it’s going to be hard for other states to match that given the extent of Boeing’s operations in the state here.”
Boeing already has two facilities in Utah where they build components for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, including fabricating the composite horizontal stabilizer. If they were to expand to include assembly and wing fabrication for the 777X, the state estimates it would have an economic impact of between $15 and $20 billion.
According to the Governor’s office, Boeing is also considering Huntsville, Alabama and Long Beach, California.