Should Washington drop the ball on the Boeing 777X, there are states lining up to take the work. At the top of that list is South Carolina, where the company already has its second production facility and where it continues to expand its footprint.
Boeing’s second 787 production plant already employs more than 6,000 workers, and this week, the company is expected to break ground on a new propulsion facility that will make parts for the engines on the 737 MAX.
Earlier this year, Boeing announced a $1 billion investment in North Charleston that would create another 2,000 jobs over the next eight years. The company has already purchased hundreds of acres of land and has the ability to buy much more.
While some Puget Sound Boeing workers are quick to discount the work being done in South Carolina as shoddy or not up to Boeing standards, many of those working in this new facility have Puget Sound roots.
Kelli Goodloe’s husband started as a Boeing machinist in Everett about seven years ago. He moved into customer quality, and this year Boeing approached him with an offer.
“They’re having people come from Everett and Seattle to grow the plant here,” she said. “We’ve met a lot of people who’ve actually relocated from the Seattle area.”
Goodloe said Boeing workers are treated like rock stars in South Carolina, and she said there’s a sense of appreciation for Boeing there that she didn’t feel in Puget Sound.
“Down here, where they are just starting to experience the good things that Boeing can bring to the economy and what it can really offer the community, there’s a level of excitement here and just a higher energy,” said Goodloe.
She said there’s a different feel from the workers, too. There’s no sense of entitlement, like some Puget Sound workers can have. They don’t take their jobs for granted in South Carolina.
“It’s kind of a little different perspective than in Everett and the Seattle area, where people are used to Boeing being there and the attitude’s just a little bit different, I think.”
Should Puget Sound Machinists vote down Boeing’s new contract extension on Wednesday and should the company decide to look outside of Washington to build the 777X, Goodloe said South Carolina will be more than happy to take the work.
“It will be interesting to see where it ends up,” she said. “There’s definitely going to be a fight for it here, if that’s at all a possibility.”
South Carolina has already won much of the design work for the new plane. Boeing made that announcement two weeks ago.