Local cities already competing to build next 737



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Posted on May 13, 2011 at 6:43 PM

BREMERTON, Wash. --    When you think of the city of Bremerton, what comes to mind? 

How about generations of men and women building big ships through two world wars? Legions of workers still repair vessels at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. It's still a Navy town with a skilled workforce.

So could Bremerton build the next 737 airplane too? 

"Where else can you get all this available land?" asks Cary Bozeman, CEO of the Port of Bremerton, which also runs the airport west of town. They have 3,000 acres of undeveloped land that he could make available for a new Boeing manufacturing plant.

"They could build whatever they need here," said Bozeman.

The one-time Mayor of Bremerton and Bellevue before that, Bozeman is already campaigning to position this airport to be the new home to Boeing's next new jet if he gets the chance. And he knows there will be lots of competition if Boeing throws things open nationwide.

"There will be 15 to 20 states...that will be active in soliciting this project. And all of us as communities that have an interest in this are going to have to rally the troops here," said Bozeman.

One only needs to think back earlier in the decade, when Washington had to compete against other states to win the first 787 Dreamliner production line for Everett.  The runner up was Kinston, North Carolina. Now a second 787 Factory is going to South Carolina and is almost finished.

The out of state threat is on everyone's mind. Even those who work in economic development in Renton, where the 737 is built now, and where the number of jets made every month is heading further into record territory. There are more than 2,000 737s currently on order.

"I think it makes an awful lot of sense for it to be here." says Alex Pietsch the Administrator for Community and Economic Development for the City of Renton.  

Renton's been the 737's home since the 1960s. It also built the first Boeing jetliner, the 707, the popular 727 and the 757. 

Just last year Boeing signed a deal extending its lease on most the Renton airport for another 20 years. That's promising, but is no guarantee Boeing will end up building the 737s replacement here.

Pietsch says the city is working hand in hand with the company to speed permitting to make sure the ramp up to 38 or more airplanes a month stays on schedule. As much as he wants the next jet to stay in Renton, he does not seem to take offense that other cities even within Washington are positioning themselves to make a play for a new jet.

"I'm really hopeful that the state and all the communities in the state can work together to first and foremost make sure this plane is built in Washington." 
"You can always get into this thing too late. But you can't always get in too early." says Bozeman when asked whether his efforts are pre-mature.