Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Kansas making a play for Boeing plant as Missouri legislators meet in special session

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

TOPEKA, KAN. — Kansas is making a pitch to persuade the Boeing Co. to brings its new 777X jet plant to the state.

"We're back in it," said Gov. Sam Brownback recently. "We're going to take a shot at it. I don't know if we are going to be able to get anywhere."

In Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon called a special legislative session starting today to approve an economics incentive package to lure Boeing.

"Building this next-generation commercial aircraft in Missouri would create thousands of jobs across our state and secure our position as a hub for advanced aerospace manufacturing — and that's why I am committed to competing for and winning this project," Nixon said.

Kansas officials were tight-lipped about any proposals they were working on.

Eileen Hawley, a spokeswoman for Brownback, would say only that Kansas has "world-class aviation capability" and would be an excellent location for the plant.

Boeing initially offered to build its 777X in Washington state but sought concessions from union machinists. After the union rejected a proposed contract, Boeing started considering other locations. Officials in Washington still plan to compete, and the state approved a package of tax breaks valued at $9 billion through 2040 during a November special session.

Several other states have reportedly made proposals. Boeing has said it would make a decision early next year.

Last year, Boeing stunned Kansas officials when it decided to relocate all of its Wichita operations to various locations outside Kansas, affecting 2,100 employees.

At that time, Brownback said the decision was "very disappointing to all of us. Dedication and hard work of generations of Kansans built the success that the Boeing company enjoys today."