By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer
Washington’s role in the aerospace supply chain was the theme Wednesday at the Paris Air Show, where state officials announced that Pacifica Engineering of Bothell plans to open a manufacturing site at Paine Field in Everett.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., announced the news Wednesday during a conference call with journalists. Larsen said he had met at the air show with leaders from Pacifica’s parent, MTorres of Torres de Elorz, Spain, which designs and builds aerospace manufacturing equipment.
Last year, MTorres bought Pacifica Engineering. At the time, Pacifica employed about 60 people, Larsen said. Since then, Pacifica has added 25 workers in Bothell and plans to employ 100 people in Bothell and Everett by year’s end.
State officials did not have additional information about Pacifica’s plans for Everett, and company officials could not be reached for comment. But a local aerospace executive who did know said that Pacifica will lease 25,000 square feet of space in the building owned by Majestic Glove, on West Casino Road just south of Boeing’s big factory near Paine Field.
The Everett plant, which is to open next month, will employ about 20 people, said the executive, who asked not to be named.
Among other things, MTorres and Pacifica specialize in building tools for the manufacture of carbon composites.
The investment by MTorres in an Everett site underscores the message Larsen learned from talking with representatives of aerospace companies at the air show: “Workforce for these folks is the number one issue.”
Many aerospace companies, including Boeing rival Airbus, are looking to expand their presence in the U.S. That gives them the advantage of pricing and selling their products using the U.S. dollar rather than the euro.
Larsen led the delegation of Washington economic development officials, business leaders and educators to Paris on behalf of Inslee, who stayed in Olympia during the legislative special session. Inslee joined the conference call from Washington.
The governor emphasized the need for the Legislature to support his education and workforce training initiatives to keep the state’s aerospace workforce strong and attractive to outside companies.
He noted that one of every three aerospace jobs in Washington is in the supply chain.
Although 75 percent of Washington aerospace companies do business with Boeing, 40 percent supply Airbus, according to a recent study by the state Department of Commerce. More than 25 percent supply planemakers Embraer and Bombardier.
Washington’s aerospace supply chain has “flown under the radar” for too many years, Inslee said. “We haven’t given it enough attention.”
Larsen met with Airbus leaders Wednesday to hear about interest in growing their supply chain in Washington.
Commerce Director Brian Bonlender, who was with Larsen in Paris, said his department has been trying to help Washington aerospace companies understand Airbus supply-chain strategy.
Washington’s workforce provides an advantage over other states in attracting new business from Airbus and from Boeing on projects like the 777X, Inslee said. But that doesn’t mean the state’s a shoo-in.
“We are going to be competitive for the 777X and for the wing,” Inslee said. “But we are building a supply chain for the world.”
Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org.