Looking forward after the 787 assembly line loss

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley

KING5.com

Posted on October 29, 2009 at 4:19 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 29 at 5:40 PM

SEATTLE - Last spring, this reporter visited that other Carolina -  North Carolina.  There, I spoke with the people who came "this close" to winning the first 787 assembly line. A highly-organized. State-supported economic development agency based at an airport near a smallish country town called Kinston.

That time, the South lost.

On Wednesday, the South won, when Charleston, South Carolina took the latest prize - the second 787 assembly line.

Economic hunger may have something to do with it.

"We're expected to win by not losing."  said John Stanton, Chairman of the Washington Roundtable, a business group representing dozens of this state's corporations that includes Boeing as a member.

He's talking about complacency in Washington when it comes to economic development. Of particular concern for the Roundtable is Washington's legislature, which he says has been slow to recognize the needs of businesses in the state.

But with Boeing's decision over the second assembly line, this time Washington has lost and people don't feel like winners.

What about the next Boeing airplane? Where does it go?

"This is a wake up call. It says to us that, if we're not careful, the next project in 2012 or 2015 or 2018, won't be here and the men and women who want those jobs won't have them." said Stanton, who grew up in a Boeing family after his dad joined the company in the 1950s to begin working on designs for the company's first jets.

Despite recently cited business "scorecards" that put Washington near the top of lists for business climate, Stanton says Washington remains one of the most costly states in which to do business.

At the top of the Roundtable's want list is tax reductions for worker's compensation and unemployment.

In her pitch to Boeing in September, Gov. Christine Gregoire cited the healthy state of Washington's unemployment insurance fund at a time when many state funds are bankrupt and are now propped up by the federal government, including South Carolina's.

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