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Boeing's Announcement Of 700 New Jobs Offers Promise Of More

Gov. Jay Nixon, at podium
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Less than a year after losing a bid for Boeing’s 777X commercial plane, state and local officials couldn’t be happier about the aircraft manufacturer’s latest announcement that some of the 777X’s parts will be built here – creating 700 new jobs.

The 700 comes on top of 500 defense-related jobs that Boeing is moving from Washington state, and up to 900 coming to St. Louis as part of a “global realignment,’’ as Boeing executive vice president Chris Chadwick explained at Monday’s news conference.

Taken together, the roughly 2,000 new or relocated jobs demonstrate Boeing’s continued commitment to the St. Louis area, Chadwick said.

Boeing already employs about 15,000 in the St. Louis area, making it among the region's largest employers, especially in high-skilled engineering fields.

Gov. Jay Nixon declared, “It’s been an outstanding year.”

Nixon also lauded the "multiplier effect '' of the new jobs, saying they will likely spur even greater employment among suppliers and support businesses around the state.  He estimated that every new Boeing job could create at least five other jobs in allied Missouri businesses.

But arguably just as important, in the governor’s view, was the promise that Boeing’s St. Louis operation could attract more work tied to the commercial airline industry. For decades, the region’s aircraft industry has centered almost solely on national defense – lucrative, but largely reliant on federal money.

“Boeing’s decision to in-source commercial work to St. Louis for the very first time marks a historic moment and a huge win for Missouri, for Boeing’s workers, and for Boeing’s more than 600 suppliers and vendors around the state,” Nixon said.

Boeing’s economic importance also was underscored Monday as most of the region’s major political figures – Republicans and Democrats – showed up to stand behind Chadwick and Gov. Jay Nixon as they jointly announced the good news.

The news conference offered a rare scene of political peace:  Nixon, the state’s top Democrat, was joined by the region’s three top Republicans -- Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey and U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner.  Also on hand was St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, both Democrats.

The governor even went out of his way to praise the legislative leaders – many of whom had blasted him just weeks ago during the veto session.  Such rancor was ignored Monday. “We would not be here without this team behind me,’’ Nixon said.

Although only Nixon spoke, several of the other officials fired off statements to highlight their own pleasure over the news.  Wagner, for example, called the 700 new jobs “a testament to the people of this region and to the greatest skilled and high tech workers in the country.”

House Speaker Tim Jones, Re-Eureka, cited the tax incentives that had been approved by the General Assembly during last December's special session, which was held to assemble a package to persuade Boeing to locate its entire 777X production in St. Louis. Although that effort failed, Boeing's additional jobs for the 777X parts production will allow the company to qualify for many of the incentives.

Chadwick told reporters that some of the 700 new jobs already are filled, with the rest coming on shortly. The jobs here are expected to focus on composite parts for the 777X aircraft's wing. Production of the parts aren't expected to get underway until 2017, Boeing said.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.