CHARLESTON, S.C. - Ground breaking's are often hokey affairs, a few politicians and executives wearing misadjusted hard hats to go along with their suits and skirts, struggle to make gold painted shovels pierce the hard packed earth and remain dignified in the process.

Boeing brought in a track hoe, a construction grade dump truck and hired professionals to carve about a square yard out of the sandy South Carolina lowland soil.

And so it begins, Boeing's grand test to see how well it can build airliners outside of Puget Sound.

You could call it the accidental airplane factory. Had the 787 Dreamliner stayed on schedule, subcontractor Vought Aircraft Industries may have never been put in a position to sell its 3-year-old fuselage plant, and its half of a joint venture with the Italians for large fuselage assembly to Boeing.

If the Dreamliner were not two years behind schedule, would Boeing have considered looking outside of Everett to build a second assembly line to try and make good with the airlines by catching up on deliveries of some 840 planes.

The atmosphere at Charleston this morning, where the sun was out and the forecast high was 73 degrees, was positively giddy.

Once South Carolina government and its congressional delegation figured that Boeing was a big lunker to be landed on the bank of economic development, the state seemed to spare no expense or incentive in reeling it in.

In his remarks South Carolina's powerful Republican Senator Lindsey Graham joked that, You just bought the best friend Boeing will ever have.

Graham might be a good friend for Boeing to have as the aerospace giant battles the Alabama delegation that's backing the Northrop EADS/Airbus bid for that huge Air Force tanker contract.

Democratic congressman Rep. Jim Clyburn says winning Boeing hit three of the state's top priorities - Jobs. More jobs. Many more jobs.

People are competing to win those jobs, many are like Darrell Stallworth whom I met at an aircraft assembly class run by the Trident Technical College which has two related programs to supply Boeing with qualified workers.

Others like Joe Reynolds of Houston told me there weren't many jobs in Houston these days. He's a contract inspector who's contract has just been extended another year.

I met several people who used to work for Boeing in Puget Sound but are now working here, some temporarily, some hoping for permanent work.

But Puget Sound seemed to be very much on the mind of Jim Albaugh, the new CEO of Boeing's Commercial Airplane Division, who said, Some will say a win for South Carolina is a loss for Washington. I don't see it that way.

Albaugh makes the case that the addition of Charleston will help grow the company and grow jobs back in Puget Sound.

That may not come as much consolidation to Washington's political establishment which treated the October 28 announcement that the second line was going to South Carolina with sincere disappointment or stony silence.

Despite public misgivings by the Machinists Unions and others as to whether South Carolina can muster the necessary skilled workforce to match seasoned workers who've been building jets for decades in Puget Sound.

Despite the complexities of building the same jet on both coasts, Boeing is plunging ahead. Just today, I watched as timber crews cleared acres of forest to make way for the construction crews which will follow. I also watched as a beehive of employees who build out large fuselage sections at the nearby Global Aeronautica joint venture seem to be picking up the pace of body sections heading to Everett.

Boeing says the new assembly plant will crank out as many as three complete 787s each month. The Everett line is slated to top out at seven.

That hardly seems to disappoint South Carolinians. Embattled Republican Governor Mark Sanford calling this the largest single reinvestment in South Carolina history. And the largest jobs creator.

And all made it clear they want to see Boeing take off in their state in a bigger and bigger way.

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