By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen will have plenty of company from Washington state when he arrives at the Paris Air Show, with nearly 100 other people from the state in attendance this week.
Gov. Jay Inslee selected Larsen on Thursday to take his place leading the state’s largest-ever delegation to the international air show, which begins Monday. Inslee is staying in Olympia as the Legislature continues to wrangle the state’s budget in a second special session.
Larsen will lead 52 representatives of business, education and economic development from around the state. A second delegation of about 40 people, organized by the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber, also will attend events in Paris, said Alex Pietsch, director of the governor’s Office of Aerospace.
One of those events, a dinner on Wednesday, will focus on how Washington can remain competitive in the aerospace industry.
The air show “is a great opportunity for folks to see the scale of competition that’s out there,” Pietsch said.
Washington won’t be the only state to host dinners, receptions and have an exhibit at the air show. At least 16 states, including Alabama, South Carolina and Kansas, will have delegations there, noted Monica Wiedrich, the aerospace business development manager with the state Department of Commerce. Governors from nine states are planning to attend the Paris Air Show.
“Overseas, they really value government, so it has high prestige when a governor attends,” she said.
That burden will shift to Larsen. Boeing’s Everett factory is in Larsen’s district, making the congressman no stranger to aerospace or Boeing.
“As a leader on the House aviation subcommittee and the representative of tens of thousands of aerospace workers and dozens of suppliers, I am eager to advocate for this critical part of our economy on Gov. Inslee’s behalf,” Larsen said in a statement.
Inslee was scheduled to meet with executives not only from Boeing but also from Airbus, Spirit AeroSystems, Saffran and Zodiac.
“We have a full schedule of meetings,” Pietsch said. “It’s going to be exciting and intense.”
As Boeing makes decisions about the supply chain for the 737 MAX and 777X, Inslee wanted to ensure as many of those suppliers as possible are in Washington, Pietsch said.
Boeing and Airbus often make splashy announcements, such as blockbuster orders or new aircraft launches, at air shows. And states, including Washington, also make announcement. At last year’s Farnborough International Airshow in England, which is held alternate years with Paris, then-Gov. Chris Gregoire announced 175 new aerospace jobs for Snohomish County.
Commerce’s Wiedrich said her goal for air shows is to drum up $10 million in business for the state’s aerospace companies over 10 years. From connections or deals made at Farnborough last year, companies in Washington attribute $5.8 million in sales. That exceeds even the $4.9 million in business attributed to attendance at the Paris Air Show in 2011.
Wiedrich helps coordinate brief meetings between Washington companies in attendance and larger companies outside the state.
“It’s so productive for them,” Wiedrich said of the companies attending.
Other local organizations attending include the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance, the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Materials Manufacturing and Economic Alliance Snohomish County.
Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org.