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Political leaders encouraged by Boeing permit applications

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By Molly Parker
mparker@scbiznews.com
Published Aug. 26, 2009

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said Boeing’s decision to seek permits to expand in his city indicates “we’re very much in the hunt” for a Dreamliner assembly plant.

“I think the fact that they are looking at some permitting makes it real good for us,” he said. “I feel like it’s a positive, and it’s definitely not a negative.”

Summey said he was notified at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday that Boeing would be filing building permit applications with regulatory agencies today to expand its campus near the Charleston International Airport.

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Boeing Charleston spokeswoman Candy Eslinger called it a “procedural step” that does not mean the company has decided to locate its second Dreamliner production facility in South Carolina.

Filing for the permits now is necessary because of the amount of time it could take to secure them in the event Boeing chooses North Charleston, she said. Boeing officials have said that South Carolina is on a short list of potential sites that also includes Everett, Wash. The original 787 assembly line is located there.

Still, the development has stirred excitement. In a statement, U.S. Rep. Henry Brown called it a “massive vote of confidence in the quality of the South Carolina work force.”

“The opportunity for continued growth of such a world-class manufacturer and aerospace giant to the state of South Carolina is good news for the Charleston region and the entire state of South Carolina,” said Brown, R-Hanahan.

A statement from a county official in Washington said that Boeing clearly considers North Charleston a viable option for its next Dreamliner production line.

“As I’ve been saying since January, the competition to land the second line of the 787 is real and robust,” Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said. “The Boeing Co.’s most recent actions indicate that the company sees North Charleston as a site with tremendous possibilities and that the company is indeed poised to maximize the plant to its fullest potential.”

Calling on Boeing and the Machinists union to resolve their differences, Reardon also asked leaders, including those elected throughout Washington state, to put a halt to negative rhetoric regarding Boeing’s approach to expansion of the 787 assembly.

“Our goal as policy leaders must be clear, and that is to create the most competitive regional and state economic environment for the future of commercial aerospace,” Reardon said. “We must do whatever is necessary to keep the Boeing Co. in Washington state, thus protecting tens of thousands of jobs related to the aerospace industry."

Reach Molly Parker at 843-849-3144.

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