According to recent news reports, Boeing executives are meeting with senior officials from five to 15 states trying to land a new Boeing commercial aircraft manufacturing plant. The plant would produce the Boeing 777X passenger airliner and would create thousands of jobs.
Boeing officials have set a Dec. 10 deadline to accept bids from the states seeking this prized manufacturing facility.
Last week, Kansas was not among the states that were in the running for the giant economic development plum. However, Gov. Sam Brownback confirmed on Monday that Kansas was “back in it” and would “take a shot” at attracting the new plant.
According to the news reports, as well as some top Kansas officials, Boeing started shopping for a new home for its Washington state manufacturing facility after its machinists union rejected a proposed contract that would have led to the 777X being produced at that plant.
It seems Wichita would be an ideal location for the new plant given the current facilities in Wichita, which probably could be renovated at considerably less cost than building a new plant elsewhere. Wichita also offers a well-trained work force with experience in the aviation business.
However, the union that rejected the Boeing contract proposal in Washington reportedly is the same group that caused Boeing officials to close their operation in Wichita. Boeing officials are said to have told Kansas leaders that they would not consider a Wichita site because of the union situation.
If these explanations are accurate, it seems that state and local leaders, along with Boeing and union officials, could get creative in coming up with a workable plan in which all parties would be winners. Wichita has a rich history as a hub for manufacturing numerous types and sizes of airplanes. The work force is well trained and they do excellent work.
Kansas and Wichita should work hard to advance their reputation as a superior location to build airplanes and as a center of talented and highly productive workers. Kansas seems to be coming late to this party, but the effort is worthwhile considering the benefits this plant could bring to Kansas. If the state fails to attract this project, it should cause Kansas officials to reassess their efforts and try to get their acts together to minimize the chances for similar embarrassing shutouts in the future.