By Tim Logan St. Louis Post-Dispatch
ST. LOUIS — St. Louis appears to meet most of the requirements Boeing Co. is looking for in a place to build its new 777X plant. But it would sure help if Missouri were on the ocean.
That’s according to a copy of Boeing’s request for proposals that has been obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The until-now-unreleased document — which is stamped “proprietary” — details the company’s criteria, proposed investment and job creation, and desired incentives for the much-sought-after airplane plant.
The 11-page document outlines Boeing’s requirements for the plant, and details what it plans to build under two different scenarios:
•A single 4.2 million-square-foot facility that would build the entire airplane, costing $7 billion to $10 billion for the building and equipment.
•Or two plants in different places: one at 3.1 million square feet, costing $4 billion to $6 billion, for fuselage and final assembly; and a second, 1.1 million-square-foot plant, costing $2 billion to $4 billion, to build 777X’s 114-foot-long carbon wing.
In both cases, Boeing says, “transportation is one of the most critical site selection determinants,” with air, road and rail links.
“The ideal site would be located immediately adjacent to a major international airport,” with a 9,000-foot runway capable of landing 777X and 747-400 freighter airplanes (Lambert-St. Louis International Airport would apparently qualify). Boeing also wants “easy access to a major highway” and a dedicated direct rail spur into the site for parts delivery.
Listed as “Desired:” A seaport with the ability to handle container ships and regular international ocean carrier service, presumably to easily handle shipments of parts from overseas suppliers.
The document also lists “significant institutional factors” that it will evaluate, saying “company preference is toward a location that will share in the cost of capital expenditures” such as buying, building and equipping the plant. It also lists overall cost of doing business, workforce availability, quality and cost (though it makes no mention of union workers one way or the other) and a stable regulatory environment. And there’s a list of “desired incentives.” Among them:
•Site at no cost, or very low cost, to project;
•Facilities at no cost, or significantly reduced cost;
•Infrastructure improvements provided by the location;
•Full support in worker training;
•”Entire applicable tax structure including corporate income tax, franchise tax, property tax, sales/use tax, business license/gross receipts tax and excise taxes to be significantly reduced.”
The RFP also details a construction timeline and job projections. Boeing wants to start building its facilities in November 2014 to start production in July 2016. The full plant would start with 3,250 employees in 2018 and ramp up to 8,500 by 2024. A wing-only plant would have 1,075 workers to start and would peak at 2,760.
A Boeing spokesman said the company would have no comment on the RFP, nor verify its accuracy. The company has required all state and economic development officials involved in the competition to sign nondisclosure agreements.
Earlier this week the Missouri Department of Economic Development denied a Missouri Sunshine Request from the Post-Dispatch for the RFP, citing provisions that exclude documents involved in ongoing business negotiations from open records law. The Post-Dispatch obtained the RFP from a third-party source outside Missouri who’s not involved in efforts to bring the plant here.