Boeing Builds Suspense Before it Unveils New Home
SEATTLE, May 9 (Reuters) - Aerospace giant Boeing Co. plans to announce as soon as Thursday the winning city in its two-month search for a new headquarters, and hopes to keep Chicago, Dallas and Denver in suspense until the last possible moment, according to news reports and Texas officials.
Seattle news outlets reported Boeing will run large ads on Thursday in newspapers in the three finalist cities, and will call local officials from Chairman Phil Condit's plane once its left Seattle after informing its employees of the decision.
Officials in Texas said Boeing will not file a flight plan for Condit's private plane until it takes off, hoping to keep the decision secret for a few more hours. A news conference will be held after Condit touches down in the winning city.
"They will call the governor of the winning state from the air first, and then the governors of the other two states," said Kathy Walt, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Economic development officials in Texas, Illinois and Colorado said Boeing had requested contact numbers for their respective governors, fanning speculation that the phone calls were imminent.
"They will probably make their decision by the latter part of this week," Reid Rector, executive vice president for economic development at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, told Reuters.
"That is based on a flurry of last-minute contacts last week, additional information requests (from Boeing), with a deadline of last Friday for the answers," said Rector, who joined a Dallas counterpart in making the regional pitch to Boeing.
Boeing plans to move 500 of its 1,000 corporate headquarters employees to its new home city, but nearly 80,000 employees will remain in Washington state, where the company assembles most of its big commercial airplanes.
Boeing employs a total of nearly 200,000 people at sites across the United States and in a handful of cities overseas.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that Chicago is the "front-runner," but other media have speculated that Dallas will win. Each city is closer to the Wall Street bankers and the Washington lawmakers and regulators that Condit has said he is tired of flying 3,000 miles to visit.
No published report has cited Denver as the leading contender, and most experts believe Boeing will not relocate there.
Condit has said he wants to move the headquarters away from Boeing's 85-year-old commercial jet unit, the biggest in the world. But he also seeks distance from the company's military jet and missile headquarters in St. Louis and space and communications business in Southern California.
The new headquarters location would give the Boeing units more independence, the company has said, and it has promoted the heads of its commercial jet, military and space units to newly created chief executive posts, giving them more control over their day-to-day operations.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Boeing had narrowed its list of choices to individual sites in each city -- a downtown Chicago building that once housed Morton International Co., a one-time data processing center near Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport and a downtown office tower in Denver.
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