Muhammed El-Hasan, Daily Breeze
California plans to submit a proposal to Boeing on Tuesday in an effort to woo production work for the new 777X airliner to the Golden State, according to a source at the governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.
It was unclear what incentives California would offer Boeing.
Work on the airliner could bring thousands of jobs to Southern California, especially Long Beach, where Boeing builds the C-17 military cargo plane. The C-17 plant will close in 2015 due to insufficient orders, two years before Boeing plans to start production of the 777X.
California is among several states that has been vying for the 777X work since a Boeing union in Puget Sound, Wash., rejected a contract offer that would have cut pension and health benefits. Boeing responded by announcing that it would consider other sites outside of its traditional commercial manufacturing base to build the 777X.
However, unlike with other states that are in the running for the plane — including Washington state, Missouri, South Carolina, Utah, Texas, Alabama and Missouri — California has taken a notably low-key approach to the competition.
Brook Taylor, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown’s Office of Business and Economic Development, or GO-Biz, would not even confirm Monday that the state is making a run for the 777X.
“We maintain a strong relationship with Boeing and we are actively working to expand all facets of their operation in California,” Taylor said.
South Bay state Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, chairman of the Assembly’s Select Committee on Aerospace, also declined to confirm the bid.
“Clearly, we all are committed to putting California’s best foot forward to try to get those jobs,” Muratsuchi said. “I’m going with the governor’s playbook here. I want to be a good team player.”
Muratsuchi, a Torrance Democrat, is attending the Governor’s Military Council on Monday and Tuesday as part of the statewide effort to prevent closure of California military bases, including the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, amid budget cuts.
“The governor is clearly committed to ensuring that we attract and retain good aerospace jobs,” Muratsuchi added.
The GO-Biz source questioned the benefit of going through the 777X bidding process in a high-profile manner. The source said the Governor’s Office would release some general information about its bid to Boeing later this week.
“If anyone has chosen to go public, that’s totally their call,” said Doug Alder, a spokesman at Boeing Commercial Aircraft in Seattle. “Some of the locations have chosen to go public. Others have chosen not to. And we respect whatever approach they want to take.”
Boeing provided interested states — reportedly a dozen or more — with a request for proposal, known as an RFP, on what the company wants for a 777X production site. Boeing has declined to release the RFP publicly.
However, an article last week in the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that the RFP calls for bids to be submitted by Tuesday, with various required and preferred criteria.
For example, the article said Boeing wants either a 4.1-million-square-foot factory to build the entire 777X, or two factories at different sites, one to build the plane’s 114-foot-long carbon wing and the other to build the fuselage and perform final assembly.
Long Beach’s C-17 plant offers 1.1 million square feet of space. It was unclear whether Boeing would have to increase the Long Beach facility’s size if at least some of the 777X work were performed there.
The article also said Boeing wants a facility next to a major international airport with a 9,000-foot runway. The C-17 plant is adjacent to Long Beach Airport, which has a 10,000-foot runway.
The aerospace giant also wants a site with easy access to a major highway and a direct rail spur into the facility to allow for parts delivery. The C-17 is near the 405 Freeway, with rail lines nearby that reach the nearby Port of Long Beach.
Having a seaport able to handle container ships is another of Boeing’s requested criteria, according to the article.
Other Boeing requests reportedly include “desired incentives,” such as tax breaks, low-cost or free site and facilities, infrastructure improvements and support in worker training.
In the C-17 site, Boeing already has an operating airplane assembly facility with more than 2,000 trained workers and a regional aerospace industry with tens of thousands more trained workers.
Alder declined to confirm the accuracy of the Post Dispatch article.
“I’m not going to comment on what instructions we gave them,” Alder said. “It’s going to remain private as to our terms involving the RFP.”
Alder reiterated Boeing’s plan to announce in early 2014 where the 777X will be built, with production to start in 2017 and deliveries by 2020.