Biz week in review: Boeing is sole bidder in Air Force tanker contest

By Mike Benbow Herald writer

Northrop Grumman and its French partner EADS have dropped out of the competition for a $35 billion contract to build the next military refueling tanker. The decision leaves the Boeing Co. as the sole bidder for the contract, which would provide thousands of jobs for the next 20 years and continue production for the 767, which is assembled in Everett. A study commissioned by Boeing said the tanker work would create 70,000 direct jobs nationwide and 12,000 in Washington state over the life of the contract. The compares with 7,000 in the U.S. for the Northrup proposal, the study said. Boeing still has to provide an acceptable proposal and price to win the job. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday the government would be “sharpening its pencil” for the contract negotiations.

Beverage firm wants water: Tethys Enterprises is negotiating with Everett to receive 5 million gallons of water a day to create a bottling plant that it said could produce hundreds of jobs. It wants to build a 1-million-square-foot plant to produce bottled water and other products such as soda and brewed teas, according to the company’s Steve Winter. Winter is a former president of Intermec, an Everett electronics firm. No location for the business has been established.

Job picture improves: The job picture is still tight, but improving, state officials said. According to a study, the number of jobs fell last spring, but only at a 2 percent rate, a much smaller one than in 2008. “Two percent is a very small drop, especially compared to (the previous) year, and possibly an indicator of job growth on the horizon,” said Dave Wallace of the state’s Employment Security Department. As to be expected, the most job vacancies were in the metropolitan areas of King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane counties.