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Competing For The 7E7

Sun Jul 13, 2003 12:16 pm

Landing the 7E7 project would be an economic boon for any state. Over two dozen are competing for the project. As for my state, all I know is that Boeing asked Louisiana to bid for the project. Even if we don't land it, it's at least comforting to know that they wanted us in the running...quite a few states were not asked to make a proposal. Anyway, here's a brief rundown of some "potential" places in Louisiana for the 7E7 project.

Several La. cities could fly

At least 3 La. sites could woo Boeing

Advocate business writer

Louisiana has several potential sites it could tout to The Boeing Co. for a proposed jet-making plant.
A proposal was submitted to Boeing by the state -- along with ones from nearly two dozen other states -- by a June 20 deadline.

Gov. Mike Foster and other state officials have refused to release details about the proposal for the 7E7 "Dreamliner" jumbo-jet assembly plant.

At least three cities -- Shreveport, Alexandria and Lake Charles -- have been mentioned previously in published reports and by an LSU economist as the state's most likely candidates, while others, such as Baton Rouge, New Orleans and New Iberia, are also worth noting.

Shreveport has been mentioned specifically as a Louisiana site in reports from the Seattle Times in Washington, where Boeing has much of its manufacturing operations and is being offered up to $3 billion during a 20-year period in tax incentives alone to land the 7E7 plant.

Airports in Alexandria and Lake Charles have some of Louisiana's longest commercial runways, reportedly one of Boeing's key requirements.

Officials in all three cities, however, were unwilling to say much about the project, and only Shreveport confirmed it was being touted as a potential site.

Boeing says the 7E7 project could create up to 1,200 new jobs paying workers an average $65,000 annual salary. But specific details have been few and far between, since the company is keeping its official request for proposals under wraps.

The company published a broad set of criteria on its Internet site, including things such as "suitable runway provisions," access to ports and railways and an "available labor pool."

Some details of the Boeing plant nationally have made their way into the public domain as many of the two dozen competing states have touted their own bids.

An Indiana newspaper, for example, quoted an official there as saying Boeing wants a runway of at least 10,000 feet or one that can be extended to that length by 2005. Jeff Harris, a spokesman for that state's economic development agency, also said the company wants between 400 and 600 acres connected to the runway for building the manufacturing plant.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Chennault Industrial Air Park, a former military base in Lake Charles, has a 10,701-foot runway, one of the longest commercial airstrips in the state.

FAA information also indicates Alexandria's England Airpark, another former military base, has a 9,352-foot runway, while the longest at Shreveport Regional Airport is 8,351 feet.

All three sites have rail and port access, another crucial ingredient for Boeing, since parts of the 7E7 could be built and shipped in from several places around the world, including Italy and England.

Here's an overview of those and other areas of the state:


Published reports have indicated Shreveport has been pitched in part because of several ties to the aircraft industry.

The city was the longtime home for Rockwell International's federal contract for aircraft modification work. Rockwell sold its aircraft division to Boeing in 1996. In 2001, Boeing closed the Shreveport site, blaming declining work.

The city also was one of four cities in contention in the late-1980s for a McDonnell-Douglas plant that was never built.

Liz Swayne, a spokeswoman for Shreveport Mayor Keith Hightower, confirmed the city has been mentioned as a site, but referred specific questions to the Foster administration, which so far has provided scant information in response to public records requests from The Advocate and again refused to provide information late Friday.

Arlena Acree, head of Shreveport's economic development arm, said the city is capable of large port shipments. Its General Motors plant receives metal-stamping equipment via the Red River, she said.

Lake Charles

The Chennault facility also was home to a Boeing plant in the 1980s. When Boeing pulled out, Northrop Grumman took over the site for its federal contract work to retrofit military aircraft with high-tech radar equipment.

Chennault Executive Director George Heard would not discuss the 7E7 project and said Louisiana Economic Development had asked him not to comment publicly about it.


Jon Grafton, head of England Airpark, refused to say whether he had spoken about the project with state officials.

"We're always in touch with Economic Development on a number of different projects," Grafton said.

The park offers a variety of facilities. Among its aviation projects is Pride International's work in refurbishing commercial aircraft.

New Iberia

Still another possibility is New Iberia's Acadiana Regional Airport, which NASA recently chose as a regional training facility for small, high-speed aircraft.

Rock Lasserre, the airport's executive director could not be reached for comment.

Acadiana Regional has an 8,002-foot runway and nearby port and rail access.

For years, NASA has been using the facility as a layover location for astronauts traveling between Houston and Florida. It also is a designated site for emergency space shuttle landings.

Baton Rouge and New Orleans

Baton Rouge's longest runway is 7,002 feet, while the longest at Louis Armstrong International in New Orleans is 10,104 feet.

Baton Rouge Metro Airport was among the first agencies in the state to begin working on a 7E7 proposal.

State officials have cited requests by Boeing for confidentiality as their chief reason for refusing to release details of Louisiana's proposal.

A local published report quoted a Boeing spokeswoman as saying states would not be penalized if they speak publicly about their bids.

"We understand it's difficult, and there are politicians trying to make things happen," Yvonne Leach told the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. "It's not like we're going to penalize or drop people because of that."

Mary Hanson, another Seattle-based Boeing spokeswoman, refused comment Thursday about publicity from competing states.

Hanson said she was not familiar with the comments attributed to Leach.

Hanson repeated earlier statements that Boeing's priority was a "fair and rigorous" site search.

When asked specifically if states would be penalized for speaking publicly, Hanson said she would not answer.

Officials in many of the competing states have spoken at length about Boeing. Washington and Michigan in particular have held large press conferences detailing some of the components of their respective bids.

Marino viewed other states' offers with a dose of skepticism. Competitors often overstate proposals as part of the "game" and one-upmanship of winning big projects, he said.

"It gets dirty," Marino said of states and other groups who compete for large projects. "They try to scare you off. You don't want to put your business on the street because it becomes a bidding war."

One thing's for will be VERY interesting to see how this thing pans out.

Steve in N.O

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RE: Competing For The 7E7

Mon Jul 14, 2003 12:10 am

Tulsa is also hoping to land the 7E7 contract. With such a large aerospace workforce in TUL, including an already existing Boeing plant, and American's maintenance base (the largest in the world), TUL hopes to be a major candidate for the new contract.
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RE: Competing For The 7E7

Mon Jul 14, 2003 12:15 am

Does anyone else find it really annoying the way every media outlet calls anything bigger than a 75 or 321 a jumbo jet?
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RE: Competing For The 7E7

Mon Jul 14, 2003 2:11 am

It is sounding like Boeing is just trying to apply pressure to the State of Washington by encouraging other cities to submit proposals.

In regards to of the requirements a city must have is a 24 hour seaport. I'm not sure the Arkansas River would provide the services needed for this.
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RE: Competing For The 7E7

Mon Jul 14, 2003 3:14 am

Greetings from Everett, Washington....home of the new 7E7! hasn't been announced yet, but will. I couldn't agree more with 'Ouboy79' that Boeing is trying to apply more pressure to the state of WA to get what they want.

The state of Washington has a major problem: while it's great that none of the working folk have to pay a state income tax, the businesses we work for here pay what's called a B&O (Business and Occupation) tax which is excessive, and has been successful in driving companies into the ground or out of the state. Add on top of that property taxes, as well as unemployment insurance (hint: we're a heavy democratic-leaning state) and Boeing is at its wits end with WA given the taxes they pay. And did I mention the little traffic problem we have here in Seattle? Right up there with NY, Atlanta, SF, and LA for congestion. Boeing needs to move their parts between plants (one located south of Seattle, the other about 2 miles from where this message is being written) and that's tough when the truck drivers have to sit in 1+ hours traffic every day.

Remember the well-hyped contest to win the Boeing HQ office? Well, that was just a precursor to the 7E7 site contest we have today. Boeing execs. wanted to (and did so very well) fire a shot over the state' government's bow to show just how serious they were about getting reforms in B&O and other high-priced regulations.

The state of Washington was put on notice with the 7E7: reform now, give tax breaks, or whatever, or you lose jobs now and possibly much more in the future. There is growing speculation that if the 7E7 does get built elsewhere, other models built here will be relocated, and that will seriously damage the economy of this sate. So far, they've succeeded: turning the Democratic governor and legislature into Republican mode: make it easy for business or else face the music.

Here's where things stand today: we have a transportation package in place (gas tax just went up 5c on 7/1) among other taxes to pay for it, to hopefully alleviate the hot spots. Unemployment tax and reforms have been modified to suit Boeing, Everett (which IS a deep sea port, unlike places in Arkansas) is getting modfications and a new rail line to improve the movement of parts and goods. Finally, saving the best for last, Gov. Lock and the legislature have a $3.2 billion check in the form of tax breaks (B&O and property) made payable to the Boeing Co., which I believe is good for 2-3 years.

Bottom line: Boeing will build the 7E7 in Washington state. It may be partly in Moses Lake, east of the Cascades, which has better and dryer weather, and Everett, or all in one place. Boeing wins: they finally got the tax breaks they wanted and the reforms they need out of our state. We'll get the jobs, and who knows, maybe the HQ office will move back? I'm not holding my breath on that last one, though. Maybe it depends on United...see the other discussion thread on that subject!
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RE: Competing For The 7E7

Mon Jul 14, 2003 7:20 am

If the 7E7 was going to be built anywhere other than any current Boeing plant, that place would be in the Savannah, Georgia area. It fits nearly all of Boeing's prerequisites (24 hour seaport, major interstate access, skilled workforce [Gulfstream's plant is in the area, as is a major nuclear sub base], for example), and there's a nice plot of land owned by the State of Georgia near Pooler that may fit the bill nicely now that Daimler-Chrysler has postponed their planned plant to build the Freightliner/Dodge Sprinter Vans.
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RE: Competing For The 7E7

Mon Jul 14, 2003 7:28 am

While I doubt the port of Tulsa would be much of a handicap ... the tornado scenario is definitely a little scary!

Whoever gets "the" factory should realize this will be a far more decentralized manufacturing effort. Boeing has to maximize its congressional districts .... er ... I mean profits!
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RE: Competing For The 7E7

Mon Jul 14, 2003 8:12 am

I still think Paine Field--the home of Boeing's widebody assembly plant--is still in the lead to get the 7E7 contract.

There are two reasons for this:

1. There is considerable excess production capacity available, namely the unopened second 777 production line and the drawdown of 747 production.

2. The nearby Port of Everett is an excellent deepwater port that can easily handle ships carrying larger pre-built subassemblies for the 7E7 from Japan easily. Indeed, the state of Washington is looking at building a new pier at the Port of Everett that can unload these larger subassemblies.

3. Paine Field can easily accommodate the 7E7 assemblies that come in by air using Volga-Dnepr and Air Foyle Heavylift-contract An-124's, notably the new large-diameter turbofan engines.
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RE: Competing For The 7E7

Mon Jul 14, 2003 8:16 am

Finally, saving the best for last, Gov. Lock and the legislature have a $3.2 billion check in the form of tax breaks (B&O and property) made payable to the Boeing Co., which I believe is good for 2-3 years.

It's funny the way state legislatures work. I just did a write up on the Boeing incentives bill for my job, and nowhere in the lengthy bill does the word "Boeing" appear. Technically speaking, the tax breaks can be used by any corporation that's ready to begin production of a "superefficient" airliner within the next few years. The fact that Boeing's the only corporation in the world that can qualify, well that's just a minor detail  Smile
Actually if the legislation did mention Boeing by name, it would be a "private act" that could cause constitutional violations.

The state of Washington has a major problem: while it's great that none of the working folk have to pay a state income tax, the businesses we work for here pay what's called a B&O (Business and Occupation) tax which is excessive, and has been successful in driving companies into the ground or out of the state.

What differentiates the B&O tax from a corporate income tax is that it applies to gross rather than net income and therefore has to be paid even by a corporation that's losing money. It therefore can be especially burdensome to startup ventures, which usually operate at a loss for some time. They'd pay no regular income taxes. To a company like Boeing, the B&O tax is (arguably) preferable to a corporate income tax.
"Let me think about it" = the coward's way of saying "no"

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